The best Italian food I’ve had in a while is Japanese. Yes, I recently dined at Flatiron’s Basta Pasta, an Italian restaurant with a Japanese owner. A lot of the reviews I read prior to dining describe the restaurant as fusion, but I don’t think so. After all, Italians eat sea urchin too. I found the dishes to be very Italian, though not your usual spaghetti and meatballs or fettucine alfredo. I got the $19 prix fix lunch menu with a mixed greens salad and a choice of pasta and dessert with coffee or tea. As I waited for my salad, I nibbled on the bread. The Italian breads were a bit hard (not in the good traditional hard bread way), but the raisin loaf was wonderful. I thought it may be raisin-olive but I wasn’t positive. While somewhat of a sweet bread, it had sea salt on top of it for a nice balance of sweet-salty.
For my pasta, I got the fusilli with free range chicken ragu, fresh tomatoes and prosciutto. This is not an Italian dish at all, but a dish made from Italian ingredients. However, the sauce was reminiscent of a dish my grandmother and mother make that is obscure, one that I have not seen in any Italian cookbook or TV show. I felt like the food critic at the end of Ratatouille taken back to my childhood. In addition to being ethereal, the dish was also plentiful and I devoured it.
With the lunch prix fix, there is no choice for dessert, and I got the apple cake. The size was perfect, as I was almost full from my pasta. But this dessert didn’t quite work for me. The ice cream wasn’t vanilla-y enough for me, and the cake was kind of spongey.
However, I wouldn’t eat at Basta Pasta for the dessert. I’d eat here for the pasta.