One a chilly night a (super extremely long) while back, I met Jen and a friend of hers for dinner at Basta Pasta--where they serve Italian food with a Japanese flair. The original restaurant opened in 1985 in Tokyo, Japan, inspired by the wildly-popular "Iron Chef" competition.
I knew none of this backstory until after the meal, so it seemed a little unusual at first. Everyone spoke Japanese in the kitchen while they cooked pasta! Gotta love fusion.
Their kitchen and prep areas are open and brightly lit, which is fun to me. I love being able to see how they work and what they're doing--plus I feel like they have nothing to hide. ;)
One of my all-time favorite dishes is Caprese salad, but often that comes with not enough Bufala di Mozzarella and too-mushy, mealy tomatoes. Not here! The cheese was so fresh, crumbly, soft, melty, and the tomatoes were beautifully sliced and delicious. Winner!
We were in a very veggie mood, so we also got the broiled asparagus with cheese and panko bread crumbs. There is something about panko that I don't care for that much, so I took pieces that weren't quite as covered. I do love asparagus!
Two of us ordered the spaghetti con proscuitto and parmaggiano..served after a good tossing in a half-wheel of parmaggiano-reggiano cheese---yum! Let me repeat that: WHEEL. OF. CHEESE!!! The salty proscitto went nicely with the salty-yet-creamy cheese. Their version was good, but not as good as Bocca's. Of course, I'm not speaking to Bocca right now, so this may have to do for a while...
Our third dish was the Linguine al Pescatore: linguine with seafood and a light red broth. It was good, but I was sticking with my dish!
This place really pays attention to detail--we never had to flag down any servers, because they always seemed to check in at just the right moment, and often brought us what we needed before we even asked. When one of us stepped away from the table, they swooped in and folded the napkin at the place setting without any of us even noticing. Ninja-like service, even! And while they were attentive, they weren't smothering, either.
We all split a small chocolate lava cake at the end. This was just okay and I could have easily skipped it.
All in all, excellent service, fresh ingredients, and a great location. If you're looking for something different and delicious, I recommend Basta Pasta!
37 West 17th Street
New York, NY