Until recently, quick-service pasta invariably meant lackluster, overcooked mush, reheated behind a cafeteria sneeze-screen. Now, suddenly, Manhattan is turning up tons of restaurant-worthy pasta you can grab on your lunch break.
It’s 6:30pm on a Friday, and the line at chef Mark Ladner’s newly openedPasta Flyer is curling down the steps. Since the doors opened at 5pm, a steady crowd has been filling up on organic fusilli with basil pesto, and whole grain rigatoni with Nonna’s meat ragu. The plush floral benches complement the flowers that stand on each table, unless of course you’ve scooted them to make room for a second tray of pasta. Portions are a decent size, but it’s hard to stop ordering, especially when each dish is so cheap.
A bowl of pasta, ranging from $7 to $8 ($9.99 if you add a side and a San Pellegrino) costs less than a burger at the neighboring Bagel Buffet, or a burrito with guac from Chipotle. This is a new type of fast food: satisfying, cheap — and created by an expert chef.