Basta Pasta? Really? Why would you choose to eat in a place called Basta Pasta? That's a name for some cheap, cheesy Italian joint with bad red sauce and garlic bread. Cringe. That's the reaction I had when a friend told me a while back that she wanted to eat there. Turns out that my snap judgment was wrong. In fact, Basta Pasta is a Japanese Italian restaurant. How disorienting. It's a cute spot on 17th Street that seems to stay mostly under the radar, yet it can be tough to get a reservation and even on a late weekday evening was full. Then again, how many Japanese Italian restaurants do you know in the city? And after my superb dinner here, I get it.
In addition to a bread basket, we got slices of toast with a creamy mascarpone cheese.
There were several specials listed for the night and one in particular called out to us — the grilled Niman Ranch pork loin with mango, papaya and lime salsa. I had my doubts because I don't like those fruits, but they were an avoidable garnish. The pork itself had a splendid grilled flavor and was juicy and salty, oozing happiness into my tastebuds.
We were also intrigued by the purple yam gnocchi. It looks like food from outer space, but it was a beautiful, delicate composition. The gnocchi were soft and served in a cheesy cream sauce you won't b be able to get enough of.
Pasta with mushrooms
Although I really wanted to try the cod roe spaghetti, my friend recommended the linguine with sea urchin and jalapenos with tomatoes and basil in a broth. It was quite spicy with the jalapeños and felt of the season with the tomato and the strong scent and flavor of the basil. The tomatoes were slightly mealy though, and I wish that there had been a little more sea urchin.
And now we come to Basta Pasta's signature dish, spaghetti with parmigiano reggiano and prosciutto. This was brought to the table in a half wheel of cheese. The server tossed the pasta with the cheese and plated it. I'm a huge fan of cheese and often can't get enough of it on my pasta. It's amazing what tossing it in the wheel of cheese can do. The prosciutto layered on top was light and gave the dish some depth.
Basta Pasta has a lot going for it. In addition to good food, the prices are good. If you like pasta, but you're bored by straight-up Italian, give Basta Pasta a try.