Danielle Glantz, formerly of Short & Main, is cranking out her own brand of fresh-made pasta
Danielle Glantz is an athlete. And her current sport is pasta.
Glantz recently opened Pastaio via Corta — “pasta maker on a short street” — a fresh-made pasta shop on Center Street (a short Gloucester street) inspired by the ones she visited in Bologna on her last trip to Italy.
Glantz’s first sport was softball. She scored an athletic scholarship to the University of Hartford, in Connecticut, after a stellar career at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she played softball and won a state championship in soccer.
It was in Hartford that Glantz’s passion began to slide from the field to food.
Her skills were developed as a child, working at the side of her Lebanese mother and grandmother in her home in Agawam, Massachusetts. In fact, food is her family business. Her grandfather on her dad’s side ran an old-school grocery and fruit stand in Springfield. Her mother’s father was the grocery manager at the A&P there as well. Bold, fragrant dishes created with love in a family kitchen are her culinary heritage.
In college Glantz got her first opportunity in the food business at Firebox, an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant in Hartford. There, she was able to “follow around” the GM, Dan Meiser (the son of then-University of Hartford athletic director Patricia Meiser), until, as Glantz said, she “forced her way into the kitchen.”
That’s when it all clicked.
Glantz graduated early from Hartford and went directly to the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York. While studying at CIA she scored an internship at Chez Panisse, the influential American restaurant and birthplace of the local- and organic-food movement, in Berkeley, California. The Michelin Star restaurant — one of only 12 in the United States — was founded by Alice Waters, often called “the mother of American food.”
After graduating from CIA — where she was also awarded the Young Professional’s Brillat-Savarin Medal of Merit, given to a student demonstrating excellence in wine knowledge — Glantz returned to Chez Panisse full time. Her first focus there was on the butchering of whole animals, which led to her “jump-starting” the restaurant’s charcuterie program.
It was in the Chez Panisse kitchen that Glantz first met Nico and Amelia Monday — the owners of Gloucester’s The Market Restaurant at Lobster Cove and Short & Main — who were also working in the Berkeley restaurant.
It turned out that Massachusetts was calling the three of them home.
After three and a half years at Chez Panisse, Glantz decided she’d learned what she could there, and that she was ready to head back to New England. The Mondays persuaded Glantz to come to Cape Ann to be the sous chef at The Market.
“I found my own town in Massachusetts that I loved,” Glantz said of Gloucester. “I learned that I needed to be by the water.”
She became the head chef at Short & Main, the Mondays’ then newly-opened restaurant on Gloucester’s Main Street, a year later. There she helped expand the menu to move beyond their gourmet pizza and oysters.
“I’m super rustic — I cook like a grandmother,” Glantz said.
But Glantz is on a learning-and-growing mission. And, having conquered softball, nose-to-tail butchering, and cheffing, she was ready for her next challenge.
“I wanted my own restaurant by the time I was 26,” she said.
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While visiting her family in Agawam last summer, Glantz’s dad dusted off her grandmother’s pasta board and brought it up from the basement. It was her “Aha! ” moment.
Pasta would be her next move.
She began planning Pastaio last September, after that family trip to Bologna, where she was inspired by seeing “all the little pasta shops” there. Bologna is the hometown of mortadella, tagliatelle, and ragù. But it’s especially famous its tortellinis.
“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 she said she can make with local, healthy, and accessible ingredients like wheat, eggs, milk, and vegetables.
“There are enough farms on Cape Ann to support all of our restaurants,” says Glantz.
While working under Chez Panisse chefs Jean-Pierre Moulle and David Tanis, Glantz said she saw that purchasing locally meant more than just the promise of better-tasting dishes. It meant a commitment to the community.
And the Gloucester community is responding.
Pastaio via Corta opened for business on June 18. Recently, a man in bright orange running shoes that matched his silver-and-orange motorcycle helmet sat on the bench at Pastaio for a good 45 minutes.
“He just wanted to talk about homemade ricotta cheese,” Glantz said.
Another time, a woman popped into the store. “I came here for your burrata,” the woman said. “My mother says it’s the best she’s had in her entire life — and she lived in Italy for years.”
Glantz makes all of the pasta by hand in her shop. She makes four basic types: short, stuffed, long, and pastina (soup pastas). And she always makes at least one variety using Alprilla Farm-milled whole wheat fresh from Essex.
On a typical day you can walk into the sun-filled shop and see Glantz standing behind the counter rolling dough into long threads, breaking off thumb-size pieces for gnocchi, and then rolling each on the wooden board that imprints the signature gnocchi lines. Or she’s pressing tiny disks of pasta into orecchiette. Two days a week, she makes ravioli with fillings like ricotta, mascarpone, parmigiano-reggiano, cardoons, squash blossoms, olives, and basil.
“I’m just a girl making pasta,” says Glantz with a smile.
► Pastaio via Corta, 11 Center Street, Gloucester. (978) 868 5005. In addition to her pastas, Glantz makes burrata, mozzarella, and stracciatella every week, but it disappears almost as quickly as she makes it. If you’re not feeling lucky, call ahead. The shop is open every day, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.-ish. In addition to what she sells in the shop, Pastaio products are currently on the menu at Passports in Gloucester, Feather & Wedge in Rockport, Riversbend in Essex, and Lula’s Pantry in Rockport carries her dry pastas.
Portions of this article originally appeared in the Gloucester Daily Times.
Heather Atwood is a Gloucester-based freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor to the Gloucester Daily Times. Her first cookbook, In Cod We Trust: From Sea to Shore, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts, is available at Amazon. Shawn Henry is a Gloucester-based editorial photographer.