Basta Pasta, NYC
Cuisine: Italian, Japanese
Price: $40-60 total per person
Phone: (212) 366-0888
Address: 37 West 17th Street, NYC 10011
Basta Pasta was first established in Tokyo, Japan in 1985. The restaurant’s completely open kitchen was designed to resemble the Kitchen Theater of the popular TV program “Iron Chef”. Following the original restaurant’s success, a sister outpost opened in New York in 1990. Basta Pasta was one of the first restaurants I dined at after moving to NYC in 2007. I’ve been at least once every one to two years and this place never ceases to amaze me with its high quality pastas and unique flavors. Basta Pasta is an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant,which essentially refers to “how the Japanese do classic Italian.” The menu features Italian staples such as hearty al dente pastas and savory charcoal-grilled meats and integrates them with popular Japanese ingredients. The Spaghetti con Uova di Pesce (spaghetti with tobiko or flying fish roe) is a hugely popular dish in Tokyo and is featured on Basta Pasta’s menu.
The space is very bright and open, which I think is somewhat rare for the NYC dinner scene (excluding diners). It is not the most intimate of restaurants; however, I think actually being able to read the menu without using the table candle or your cell phone’s backlight is a refreshing change once in a while. The only other Italian-Japanese restaurant I am familiar with in NYC is Greenwich Grill in Tribeca and that one is definitely a dungeon of darkness…
These sort of Italian-Japanese restaurants are quite plentiful in Tokyo; however, this specific cuisine combination seems to be less common here in New York. If anyone knows of any other restaurants featuring this kind of fare, let me know!
This is a great place to enjoy a hearty and unique meal with friends and family. The ingredients taste super fresh and the delicate, handmade pastas are cooked to al dente perfection. The pastas here are the star feature, especially the spaghetti with uni and the uber cheesy pasta they toss and then scrape out of a giant Parmesan cheese wheel. Natalya is not a pasta person at all, but she loves the pastas served here. All the pastas range from $16-23 and you also have the option to order any of the pastas as an appetizer… we definitely did this so we could try twice as many pastas!
Of the Antipasti selections, I am a big fan of the restaurant’s original “deconstructed” Caesar Salad and the fresh fish carpaccio of the day (not pictured here) is always a winner. I highly recommend trying Basta Pasta out!
Bread sticks and sliced baguettes with goat cheese spread
And the carbo-load starts… deliciously!
Insalata di Cesare: Basta Pasta’s original Romaine lettuce Caesar salad
My friend Josie warned me that you can’t go back to eating normal Caesar salads after trying this one… and she was right. I loved the deconstructed, almost DIY Caesar salad that came with a whole head of Romaine lettuce resting on housemade Caesar dressing. It is so satisfying hearing that crisp crunch as you cut the fresh lettuce! The dressing and the light, buttery croutons are soooo good.
Cartocci di Funghi Misti: three kinds of mushrooms baked inside sealed cooking paper with thyme, garlic, olive oil
A divine medley of what might be oyster, shiitake, and enoki mushrooms… or eringi and white button? I forgot to inquire but whatever it was, it was fresh, earthy, and very healthy. “Healthy” though could be interpreted to mean “bland” (I admit I added a bit more olive oil and salt) but I still liked the preparation here.
Spaghetti con Prosciutto e Parmigiano: spaghetti with Parmigiano Reggiano & Parma Prosciutto, served in a half wheel of Parmesan cheese at the table
I want this cheese wheel in my apartment. This dish is made for the cheese lovers as you get some serious chunks of sharp Parmesan mixed with al dente spaghetti pasta. The dish is then topped with delicate slices of salty prosciutto… Buon Appetito!
Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare: spaghetti, fresh sea urchin, fresh tomatoes, garlic oil in pink sauce
The current menu has this dish served with a spicy sauce of jalapeños, fresh tomatoes and garlic oil; however, you can still ask for the “pink sauce” from the old version of this dish. I think the pink sauce is essentially a vodka sauce? This is my favorite pasta dish here; the uni is incredible!
Crespelle con Funghi e Ricotta: homemade silk handkerchief pasta, mixed mushrooms, lemon zest, ricotta cheese
I really like the silk handkerchief pasta and think the flavor combination of the creamy ricotta, earthy mushrooms, and the citrus zest is fantastic.
Farfalle con Salmone e Crema: bow tie pasta, lightly smoked salmon, asparagus, fresh tomatoes, tarragon grain mustard cream sauce
This was the first pasta dish I ordered at Basta Pasta and it was so memorable I had to recreate it at home. When I had first ordered it years ago, they had served it with peas instead of asparagus, which I think I prefer. Check out my recipe for Pasta with Smoked Salmon & Peas in a Dill Cream Sauce.
Bistecca: charcoal-grilled Prime Strip Steak, grain mustard crushed potatoes, cranberry sauce
Juicy steak and I liked the mashed potatoes with grain mustard. It is a good dish, but I’d rather order another pasta!