Mario Batali's Del Posto, New York's most expensive Italian restaurant, recently made its most affordable offering a touch less affordable. The three-course lunch menu, priced at $29 in 2011, and then $39 in 2012, is now $49, making it about as spendy as a midday meal at some of the city's best-known power lunch spots.
"Our prices at lunch have always been very aggressive," says Jeff Katz, general manager at the four-star New York Times restaurant. "So it's partly trying to get to a place where we're charging what we need to be making. To be at $39 at lunch at this restaurant is tough. We're trying to move toward something that isn't giving it away."
Katz attributes the hike, which he instituted in October, to a rise in overall costs rather than a specific increase in food or labor costs. "Operating a business in New York City continues to get more expensive. Every time you need to use a lawyer or call someone to fix your website, everything continues to get more expensive — food costs included, the costs of linens, included."
Katz says he hasn't seen any change in business since hiking the midday price to $49. "Lunch has been a service that, as a whole, has been getting better for us in this neighborhood. This is not the West Chelsea we opened up to." Indeed, when Del Posto debuted back in 2005, The High Line, located just above the restaurant, was still years away from completion, as was the Standard Hotel. And the long-awaited Whitney Museum, when it opens a few blocks down in May, will surely bring thousands more visitors to the region every day. "The neighborhood has more of a demand for lunch places. It's not Midtown corporate lunch in that way, but it's getting better," Katz says.
That Midtown comparison is an interesting one; Del Posto's price increase puts it in the same ballpark as Jean-Georges, where lunch is $48, and Marea, where lunch is $47. Keep in mind that Del Posto's menu includes two courses plus dessert, while Jean-Georges and Marea both charge for sweets at the end of the meal, though if you don't eat dessert (like some don't at lunch), this won't matter. Also remember that a supplemental pasta course is just $10 per person at Del Posto, while an extra dish is $24 at Jean-Georges.
Del Posto doesn't have any immediate plans to increase its dinner prices, which remain at $126 for five-courses and $179 for the tasting. Those prices, incidentally, last rose in 2013 when Del Posto increased the restaurant's lowest non-tipped wage to $10/hr.
So lunch for two at Del Posto is now $126 after tax and tip, or $152 for those who order a taste of pasta. Are these new prices a BUY, HOLD, OR SELL? State your case in the comments!