Pasta Franco, a new restaurant from the owners of pizzeria Motorino, opened on Thursday night at 508 Columbus Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets.
Pasta Franco is “a Northern Italian trattoria,” writes Alyssa Palombino. “We feature house-made fresh pasta, artisanal salumi boards, bistecca all griglia, and Italian wines. Weekend brunch coming soon!” For now, they’re only open for dinner hours, but lunch and brunch are coming soon. Most pastas and meat entrees are $20-$22.
See the opening dinner menu here and the delivery menu here.
I don’t know if it was in place before, but it’s always good to see a new restaurant opening with a ramp making it accessible.
Had a very good meal last night–authentic food, good service, very friendly staff–I wish them well! In bocca lupo, as they say in Italy!
go to Celeste a block away on Amsterdam.
In fact, this place would need to try a bit harder to offer a reason not to just always choose Celeste instead
We can’t go to more that one restaurant? Celeste is OK, but it’s not worth a lifelong commitment.
Last I was at Celeste, only three of their pastas shapes were actually being freshly made in house. Which is still great, but all seven of Pasta Franco’s pasta dishes are being made with fresh pasta. I haven’t sat down for a meal yet, but that’s certainly a compelling difference.
Yes, Celeste has good food, but the owner is obnoxious. I was having dinner with a friend and he wanted to turn the table (we had not been there very long), and he instructed the server to clear our table. My friend & I both know Italian, so we knew what was going on. I had the fork in my mouth & they took my plate. We were not offered dessert or coffee, but just unceremoniously brought a check. The “cash only” is irritating too-usually a sign of tax evasion.
Actually cash-only is usually a sign of the restaurateur wanting to keep prices low and not pay the extra 3-5% to the credit card companies.
Wait, did you think that using credit cards was free for the restaurant??
All sorts of places not just restaurants are looking for ways to minimize that 5% to 6% hit (or more) they take for accepting credit/charge cards.
Imposing surcharges, minimum order amount, to simply not accepting anything but cash.
American consumers are told only about the convience and whatever of using credit/charge cards. What few know is merchant account and other fees eat into each and every sale that is processed via such payments.
Historically merchants accepting CCs just built whatever costs into their prices. But that means persons using cash pay more.
Also cash is immediate; CC payments can take day, days or even a week or more before funds are deposited into bank account.
Ummm have you looked at the prices at Celeste? They’re really cheap. There’s a reason the owner has to turn his tables so often, he’s paying UWS rents too and choosing to charge very little.
The owner of Celeste, who I refer to as “Vest Guy” is quite obnoxious. I have had several bad experiences since I began patronizing his restaurant. If you are a party of three you are screwed. Going to dinner at someone’s restaurant should be enjoyable, not a stressful encounter. I consider myself qualified in culinary arts. On a lazy night, I can easily open a jar of Rao’s marinara sauce and make pasta and have a meal comparable to most UWS Italian restaurants; but when I choose not to, I want to enjoy a relaxing meal out. Carefree.
We love Carmine! He is a committed part of the neighborhood who takes time to get to know his customers, trains his staff well and is always on site overseeing everything. You can see him standing on the curb supervising deliveries, he personally brings in cheeses from Italy, and his prices are very good for the quality of the food. Celeste is a treasure.
I once went for an early dinner. Place was almost empty. As we arrived, one member of our party (total 3 people) received a phone call. Rather than take it inside, he said “you guys sit, I’ll be inside in a minute”…so he stood in front of restaurant, in clear sight, and took his call. Despite restaurant being practically empty, the owner refused to sit us until our party was all here.
If we would have known, he could have took call inside restaurant, or waited five seconds to get seated and then walked out… so my fiancé at the time and I had to stand in entry way for 5 minutes of empty restaurant, in order to be seated in eventually in still empty restaurant (I would maybe even get it if people were waiting…but then probably would not have taken call until we got in). Place was still half empty when we FINISHED dinner.
Never went back again. And that was probably 10 years ago. Food not that good to justify.
Owner said that’s our policy and didn’t matter that last guy in our party was literally standing in front of restaurant. Or that we would order for him.
Agreed. My boyfriend and I tried this place one time. We weren’t aware that it was “cash only,” and, like many people, neither of us carries cash on a regular basis. Nothing kills the mood like having to get up in the middle of dinner to walk to CVS and get cash from the ATM, PLUS pay an ATM fee since my own bank wasn’t nearby. That experience alone made me not want to return.
No fish options in an Italian eatery? It’s sad that the UWS cannot produce any semi-healthy but higher-end restaurants. If this restaurant also has TV’s inside, it will sadly fit perfectly on the UWS 🙁 I dare restaurateurs to challenge themselves and not dumb things down for diners in this neighborhood.
This is a cozy space specializing in hand made pasta and Italian wine. Focusing on a tight menu and doing it with intentionality not dumbing things down — I’d argue the opposite tends to be the case.
There are plenty of existing options in this same area where you can have a variety of great fish entrees: Crave, The Mermaid Inn, Elea, Bustan, Lokal, Kefi, Cesca, Burke & Willis, The Milling Room, Le Petit Rooster… I could go on. I’d recommend each and every one of those if you haven’t tried them yet.
Try Harvest Kitchen on Columbus between 72nd -73rd. They have fish, lots of healthy options, in a lovely environment and is affordable.
Thanks for the recommendation. The place looks lovely, although it’s always disappointing to see TV’s in a restaurant (unless it’s a sports bar). I lived in the West Village for years, and you never see that downtown. They rely on the food and charm of the restaurant to entertain the diners. But almost everyplace on the UWS feels the need to have TV’s, minus a select few. Wish they would realize it turns upscale diners like us away!
I guess I’m not so upscale that I can’t ignore them.
is it the same ownership as Motorino next door?
It says, “Pasta Franco, a new restaurant from the owners of pizzeria Motorino…”
They’re charging $20 for Cacio Pepe, which is spaghetti (flour and water) with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of Parmesan? When I see scams like that I conclude that the restaurateur thinks I’m too stupid to stay home and make it myself for 85 cents.
Good Italian pasta: $6/lb at Eataly
Real pecorino romano: $19/lb at Freshdirect
So sure, if you stick with Ronzoni and Kraft, it’s cheap, but don’t bother inviting me over for dinner.
Plus, a rule of thumb for restaurants is to keep the cost of ingredients under 25% of the menu price. In NYC/UWS I’m sure that percentage is lower.
Plus, Cacio e Pepe is a very simple dish to make, but extremely hard to make well. So you’re paying for the chef’s expertise.
Premise of your argument is rather flawed I one may say.
In theory it will always be cheaper to prepare any sort of food at home. Long as one is willing to invest time and effort; which includes shopping for ingredients, preparation, cleaning up afterwards, and so forth. Then there are opportunity costs; that is what is value of time given up on such endeavors versus someone else doing it.
Cacio e Pepe (basically mac and cheese) seems deceptively simple; but getting it right is another matter.
You should stay home & make it yourself if you can’t afford standard restaurant prices. I had a heavenly risotto at a high-end restaurant once with a companion who objected to the price. “It’s just rice!” she protested. Anyone who thinks that a heavenly risotto is “just rice” clearly doesn’t belong in a restaurant to begin with. If you can’t afford it, don’t go.
it’s not a scam, that’s the Italian restaurant business! You can’t get better profit margins than with pasta!
They aren’t just charging $20 for flour, water, and salt & pepper. They are charging for the gas used to cook it, the pans it’s cooked, the plates and tables it’s placed on, the silverwear used to eat it, and the staff that is serving it, not to mention the rent and 1000 other things. A restaurant that’s employing locals has opened in our neighborhood, let’s support it, rather than WHINE about it!
Looking at the menu, prices seem kind of high for pasta. Another Italian restaurant opened on Amst. and 90th a while back and isn’t doing well. It’s never full. Lotsa competition there, with Bella Luna, Celeste, this other place, etc. My guess is they’re going to have to figure out how to match those places in price. Most of them are cheaper.
It’s not all about who has the lowest price for a bowl of pasta. Even though Bella Luna has a whole selection of $15 dishes, there are at least a dozen Italian restaurants in the neighborhood that are maybe $2-$7 more expensive that I’d much rather go to. For people who are willing to pay a little more for quality, Pasta Franco is an appealing new option.
I think it’s also underestimated how much location matters, particularly when many diners don’t want to walk far in the winter months. And in that regard, I think Pasta Franco is competing more with Cotta across the street — which is often overflowing with customers, and Tarallucci e Vino a couple blocks south, which is actually a similar setup (intimate space with housemade pasta and Italian wines) but doesn’t have a pasta dish under $21.
My husband and I went to pasta Franco Wednesday night (only one day after the opening). I must say the EVERYTHING was fantastic! In terms of the food- everything was fresh and tasty I would compare it to some of my favorite Italian dishes all around the city and Brooklyn (and for sure better than most pasta on uws- don’t even think it’s comparable). In terms of service- the staff was exceptional. They messed up something on our order and sent extra salads and dessert to make up for it (something that most restaurants do not do but should).
Thank you I will try it!
Cash only at Celeste is not appealing or approving to everyone including an arrogant owner.
I’m in the neighborhood and won’t go back to support.
KUDOs to the management for having a handicap-accessible ramp at their main entrance!
Anyone using a “walker”, “mobility-scooter”, etc. will appreciate this.
I agree about Celeste. Used to go there regularly ( almost once a week ) until about 8 years ago when we were treated the same . We were still finishing our wine and were about to order desert. Needless to say we never returned. There are too many good options on the UWS . It’s amazing he’s still in business.
I’ll jump in on the Celeste conversation. I think it’s a gem. Unlike any restaurant on the UWS except the old Gennaro. Food is great. But we haven’t been in a couple of years for many of the reasons above. No problem with cash only. They make that pretty clear. But I agree it’s stressful going to dinner there. You are so crammed in. And my family is a dreaded party of three so it just doesn’t work when it’s crowded. We used to go a lot but we’d get there early. Now it’s just inconvenient. It’s more a date place anyway.
ordered 2 pastas for delivery. the portions were so small I thought it was a joke. I ate the kid’s leftovers from earlier in the evening.
Daniello’s pizza gives pastas 3x the size for less money
Reading most of the comments, I’m amazed anyone bothers to open a restaurant in the UWS. What a load of cheap, whiny, loud mouthed keyboard warriors you are. So stay home if you are a great cook. Go elsewhere if you like other places more. All restaurants in NYC are above average in price. You know why! And still you complain about all the empty stores but are happy when your coops go up in value. Accept it or move to NJ. I am happy for more options. Buona fortuna new place!