In Gloucester, pasta for the people
The elderly man stands in Danielle Glantz’s little Gloucester shop, Pastaio Via Corta, and motions to the handmade pasta and olives he’d like to buy. She asks him how much, carefully following his whispered instructions, and then helps him get his money from his wallet. The interaction is understated and gracious — and part of what Glantz, who makes and sells 300 to 500 pounds of pasta a week, aims for in serving her community.
Glantz, 30, has impeccable culinary cred — she graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., for almost four years before returning to her native state to work at The Market and then help open Short & Main in Gloucester. Last June, she opened Pastaio Via Corta, a short hike up Center Street from Gloucester’s main thoroughfare. Each day she makes pasta by hand from local and regional flours and organic local eggs, rolls out the dough, and, using a small hand-operated machine, cranks out 10 to 12 shapes from whole-wheat radiatori to rigatoni to fettuccine. Twice a week, she makes ravioli with seasonal, usually vegetarian fillings, and occasionally other filled pastas.
As she turns the crank of her extruding machine, she explains: “Instead of being a chef in a restaurant, I can service so many people in the community.” Her “customers really care,” she says as a woman comes in to buy pasta, olives, and a little salami, and also gets a full recipe for a sauce of butternut squash, pancetta, and hot pepper to cook that evening. “Your pasta is amazing,” the customer tells Glantz as she leaves.
Along with pasta, Glantz makes mozzarella, burrata, and stracciatella weekly and sells organic and imported canned tomatoes, several brands of olive oil, and salami. The windowsill is filled with basil plants, and a few prints on the walls add splashes of color.
She keeps the price at about $8 a pound for unfilled pasta and $14 for filled, she says, adding that because she’s using organic and local flours and eggs, her costs are much higher than commercial operations’. Another customer puts in an order for filled pasta; these sell out almost immediately on Thursdays and Saturdays. The unfilled varieties in the case sell out in a day or two, Glantz says. All of this requires working 12-hour days every day. Her philosophy is that good food should not be elitist, and bringing that to life makes it all worthwhile, she says. Then she returns to her extruding machine to crank out the next batch of pasta.
Pastaio Via Corta, 11 Center St., Gloucester, 978-868-5005, www.pastaioviacorta.com.