Two years ago, Del Posto chef Mark Ladner opened up a pop-up version of his gluten-free pasta "fast casual" concept, Pasta Flyer. Now, he's going to leave the four-star restaurant to focus on a Pasta Flyer restaurant.
The NY Times reported yesterday Ladner, who has been with Del Posto since its opening in 2005, will depart in January and "is diving into the world of upscale fast food with a quick-serve restaurant, Pasta Flyer, that he hopes to develop into a chain." The first location of the potential chain will open in Greenwich Village.
The first Pasta Flyer restaurant is coming soon to NYC. Italian, Nonna-inspired, comfort food by yours truly, @chefmarkladner - and served at light speed.
A photo posted by Pasta Flyer (@pastaflyer) on
The new restaurant will be at 510 6th Avenue, between 13th and 14th Streets. Ladner originally developed Pasta Flyer with the help of Kickstarter: "Pasta Flyer delivers soulful, traditional Italian pasta to a hungry customer’s belly as fast as a bowl of Japanese ramen, for under $10."
The Times article points out that while fast casual concepts are springing up faster and faster, with more name chefs jumping in, "no one has yet cracked the complex code of how to produce a good bowl of pasta — reasonably al dente, appropriately sauced, made with high-quality ingredients — in the same amount of time it takes a Chipotle outlet to roll a burrito or a Sweetgreen branch to toss a salad, and for about the same price."
Mr. Ladner said he has worked out a method of parcooking pasta — he plans to use Felicetti, a top-quality brand of dried pasta from a small producer in the Dolomites — so that it can be reheated and ready to sauce in about 15 seconds.
It's unclear if the upcoming Pasta Flyer will be strictly gluten-free; the Times article didn't mention it, and it would make sense to offer both versions of pasta.
When we tried a few gluten-free Pasta Flyer dishes two years ago—pesto spirals, tubes with marinara and meatballs and brown rice lasagna— we wrote, "[T]he pasta did not seem gummy, like some gluten-free pastas tend to be—the tubes were hearty and lasagna was rich. The pesto spirals were a particular revelation, firm and flavorful."
Melissa Rodriguez, Ladner's sous chef at Del Posto, will become the restaurant's executive chef. The Times says, "She will be the first woman to head the kitchen of a New York City restaurant that has received four stars from The New York Times."