With high quality coming so cheap and accessible, it’s easy to wonder: Are New Yorkers being duped into exorbitant pricing by flashy marble staircases, hard-to-secure, easy-to-covet reservations, and leather-bound menus? Pasta Flyer and its ilk have much lower overheads -- there are no hosts, sommeliers or servers, and no linens to fold, silverware to polish, or glassware to replace -- yet the product itself is superb. Ladner imports dry pasta from Italy (he prefers its texture to the supple, fresh stuff); the sauces are all homemade; and while the food is no work of art, it’s neatly presented.
“Most people feel that great pasta has to be handcrafted in an elaborate and romantic way, which is not untrue in a fine dining environment,” Ladner says. “But it certainly doesn’t have to cost $50 a plate.”