Executive chef Mark Ladner will leave Del Posto, a jewel of Manhattan dining, at the end of January to helm Pasta Flyer, his own fast-casual restaurant scheduled to open in the new year.
As head chef for the Chelsea restaurant he opened in 2005 for Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Bastianich, Ladner will part ways from his employer since 1998, for whom he opened Lupa Osteria Romana in 1999 followed by Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in 2002.
Ladner has steered Del Posto to a storied splendor, garnering four stars from The New York Times in 2010 and securing a Michelin star in 2017 announced last month. Also in November, Eater critic Ryan Sutton points to Del Posto as one of New York City’s Five Best Splurges thanks to Ladner’s cooking, "from his matzoh ball soup amuse, to his haute take on shrimp scampi with langoustines, to his famous spaghetti with Dungeness crab and jalapeños," he said, declaring Del Posto, "arguably Batali’s best Manhattan restaurant."
Ladner’s chef de cuisine Melissa Rodriguez will be promoted to executive chef when he leaves, one of the first women to run a restaurant that has earned four stars from The Times.
The stakeout for Ladner’s leaving Del Posto started around June 2014 with the launch of the Kickstarter for his new concept, Pasta Flyer, serving bowls of pasta in a space inspired by Japanese ramen shops. It was touted as a gluten-free spot with a mix and match menu of pastas to pair with a variety of meats and sauces. Its gluten-free status has since dropped from the website and in breaking news on the 510 6th Ave. location.
Ladner follows the path to fast-casual writ large by the success of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack, with a hundred locations and counting, along with smaller fast-casual chains like Bobby’s Burger Palace from Bobby Flay that started on Long Island. Ladner’s track parallels former colleague Brooks Headley who left Del Posto in 2015 to open Superiority Burger in the East Village, serving vegan burgers, vegetarian fare, gelato, and sorbet using some of the same sourcing as fine dining restaurants for dishes that hover around $5.
"I've always been really interested in affordable food, and in healthful choices in regards to food," Ladner told Eater during his Pasta Flyer Kickstarter announcement, "and I like the challenge of trying to provide more options to more people."
With the countdown to his departure underway, diners will likely jockey for reservations to mark the end of an era with Del Posto’s eight course tasting menu, such as this one: