Once a softball player, ever a purist, Danielle Glantz has opened a “pastaio,” a fresh pasta shop named “Pastaio via Corta” – “pasta maker on a short street,” transforming “a short Gloucester street” into a Florentine neighborhood.
Glantz will say her palate was actualized as a child at her Lebanese mother’s and grandmother’s sides in her home in western Massachusetts. (Her father is Italian.) Bold, fragrant dishes created with love and joy in a family kitchen seems to be the Glantz culinary syllabus.
She received a degree and a Brillat-Savarin Medal of Merit from the Culinary Institute of America (after starting out at the University of Hartford on a softball scholarship). She cooked for four and a half years at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, and returned to Massachusetts as sous chef at Nico and Amelia Monday’s restaurant The Market on Lobster Cove. After a year there Glantz became head chef at Short and Main, the Monday’s and partners’ second restaurant on Main St. in Gloucester. But Glantz still speaks with awe of her grandmother’s shish barak, a tiny lamb and pine nut tortellini served in a yogurt soup, as if that cooking had more power over Glantz’s professional style than the other way around.
Yet, under Chez Panisse chefs Jean-Pierre Moulle and David Tanis, Glantz saw that purchasing locally meant more than the promise of better tasting produce; it meant a commitment to the community.
With this personal canon, Glantz has opened Pastaio via Corta, a handmade pasta and cheese shop on Center St. in Gloucester.
If you have noticed the small chalk sandwich board saying “fresh pasta” on the corner of Main St. across from Passports, follow the pointing arrow; just go. It’s your lucky day if Glantz has made burrata, a sphere of freshly pulled mozzarella so plump with cream that it bursts at the tenderest pressure, and they are not all spoken for.
While I was there last week, a 30-ish year old woman walked in and said, “I came here for your burrata; my mother says it’s the best she’s had in her life, even after living in Italy for years.” Glantz smiled back with her steady, brown-eyed soundness. This is the woman who, when talking about working with the wood-fired oven at Short and Main, said, again with that straight-shooting clarity, “the oven will own you unless you own it.”
Glantz makes burrata, mozzarella, and stracciatella every week, but it disappears as quickly as it goes in the case. If luck isn’t your thing, order ahead: 978-868-5005.
Glantz makes all of the pasta by hand in her shop. On any day (Glantz is open 7 days a week, from 11:00 – 7:00.) you can walk into the sun-filled store, and she is standing behind the counter rolling dough into long snakes, breaking off thumb-size pieces for gnocchi, and then rolling each on the wooden board that imprints those signature gnocchi lines. Or she is pressing tiny disks of pasta into orrechiette. On Thursdays and Saturday’s she makes ravioli. Last week’s were filled with ricotta, mascarpone, Parmigiana Reggiano, cardoons, squash blossoms, olives and basil.
Glantz makes four basic kinds of pasta: short, stuffed, long, and “pastine” – or soup pastas. She always has a whole wheat pasta made from Alprilla Farm’s milled whole wheat. Flour is now the symbol of Glantz’s conviction.
“I believe that good food should be available to everyone. When I thought about opening my own business, I thought, if I’m entering the market as someone who is honestly concerned about farm-to-table living and sustainability, I’ll start with pasta,” – a product that can make local, healthy ingredients like wheat, eggs, milk and vegetables available to everyone.
Gloucester Italians have already discovered Pastaio via Corta. The day I was there a 40-ish year old man named Caesar, wearing bright orange running shoes to match his silver and orange motor cycle helmet, sat on the bench for a good 45 minutes. He just wanted to talk about homemade ricotta cheese, a certain sign for me that Pastaio via Corta has already improved our community in many ways.
Glantz competed with this dish in last week’s Cape Ann Farmers’ Market Seafood Throwdown. For the record, Cape Ann Fresh Catch will be selling whiting, so delicious in this summery pasta recipe, this week (8/25).
Pastaio via Corta Seafood Throwdown Radiatore
serves 4 for dinner
1 whole whiting or 2 small (about 1/2 pound of cooked meat)
3/4 cup olive oil, divided (for fish and cherry tomatoes)
salt and pepper
1 pound Pastaio via Corta radiatore
2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 cup squash blossoms, roughly chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Heat a clean grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Rub fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap fish securely in aluminum foil, and lay on grill. Grill for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes well when checked. Remove from the grill, and open the foil slightly to stop the cooking. After it is cool enough to handle, pull the flesh from the bones, discarding the skin. You should have about a cup of fish, or to taste. Set aside.
In a large skillet heat 1/2 cup olive oil to medium high. Add garlic, and toss in the pan very briefly, for about a minute Do not brown. Add cherry tomatoes. Toss a bit with the garlic, and let cook until the tomatoes just begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add the pasta to the water and cook for 2 minutes, if using Pastaio via Corta, or until al dente. (Boxed radiatore will take 5-7 minutes.) Drain pasta but leave a small amount of water on the pasta, just dripping a bit, and toss the pasta into the pan with the cherry tomatoes. With 2 wooden spoons, start tossing the pasta in the pan with the tomatoes. Add the fish, and keep tossing, until the pasta begins to “drape” with the liquid in the pan. (Return the pan to warm heat if necessary.) Toss in the fresh herbs, squash blossoms, and toss well again. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve immediately.