For Christmas dinner, I made reservations at one of the few decent restaurants that were opened for the holiday. I wasn’t about to surrender to cup noodles and cheesy movies in the hotel room on my favourite holiday!
Getting to Basta Pasta was a bit of a depressing journey. It was raining. The streets were darkly lit with barely any shops opened, and there was hardly anyone on the streets, except for us and a few tourists, who like us, did not have a family or roast turkey to go home to on a cold winter night. Boohoo. The walk to Basta Pasta grew so quiet that we almost gave up, until my always-eagle-eyed husband proclaimed we were finally there. We hurried out of the rain into an open kitchen near the entrance and were led into the cheery dining room. Apparently, the open kitchen concept was modelled after the popular television programme Iron Chef!
The menu was very straightforward and self-explanatory, and this was good because we were incredibly hungry after a somewhat disappointing day in Chinatown. We quickly ordered the grilled seafood from the special menu and Tonno Fresco Scottato (tuna tataki with wasabi tartar sauce, cauliflower and orange saffron sauce) for starters. M wanted the Spaghetti con Uova di Pesce (spaghetti with tobiko and shiso) and I settled on the Linguine ai Ricci di Mare (linguine with fresh sea urchin and basil in pink sauce) for mains.
The grilled seafood was decent, but there was nothing memorable about that. The tuna tataki was good except that I was a wimp and teared slightly at the very potent wasabi tartar sauce. M’s tobiko and shiso spaghetti was lovely, but I think the winner was my sea urchin pasta! It was soooooo buttery and creamy with the generous dollops of remarkably fresh sea urchin, well worth the cheap-ish price tag! After all, if you don’t know already, good uni is pretty expensive at Japanese restaurants.
The portions were rather sizeable, so we were too full for dessert, which was a shame. We paid up, and took a long walk to Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue for a feast of Christmas lights and happy crowds. Then we trudged back to Park Avenue to rest our exhausted fat selves and watch Pavarotti belt it out on TV in the hotel. Christmas 2009, done!
Basta Pasta is located at:
37 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011.