When you enter an Italian restaurant and find an open kitchen where all the staff members are Japanese, you can't help but research on Google what this concept is all about. Basta Pasta is indeed an Italian restaurant but it showcases the way the Japanese enjoy Italian food.
Basta Pasta was established in Tokyo Japan 1985, and designed to take after the TV program Iron Chef's totally open kitchen - a Kitchen Theater. In 1990 Basta Pasta opened in New York. I honestly don't find the idea great especially since the place is very claustrophobic and the food is bad.
Behind a glass facade is a rectangular restaurant based on the open kitchen concept. There is a big fridge and a bar, and several cooking stations before you arrive at the main dining area. The chefs are Japanese and they call their executive "King of the Kitchen" his name is Satoru Takada.
On the menu: antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti, griglia. Some of the choices are fresh fish carpaccio, salads, tuna tataki, squid and octopus, three choices of spaghetti, linguini, farfalle, fettucini and risotto. Seared duck, veal cutlet, salmon and lamb. In brief, the menu has it all from fish to veal, lamb and steak.
The restaurant has an industrial feel with open kitchens where five chefs work live in font of their customers. It is interesting to see.
Everything here is different: the sparkling water, Lurisia, is imported from Italy, the toast with Gorgonzola served as a mise en bouche, a waiter that memorizes the order without writing anything, table napkins and paper rolls used to protect the papers between every customer.
Appetizers have nothing exceptional about them:
- Tortino di Granchio: crab meat, avocado, green apples, mini gold potatoes, basil aioli, grapefruit jelly, sliced Market radishes. A round green cylinder topped with a grapefruit jelly. Tender fresh crab, crunchy apples and basil. A bizarre and complicated plate.
- Tonno fresco scottato: Spanish prime tuna tataki, original wasabi tartar sauce, cauliflower, fingerling potatoes, hearts of palm, saffron orange sauce. A mix that doesn't seem too appetizing is paired with the tuna slices. However good tuna quality, a boost of wasabi, makes a tasty mix despite its look.
- Insalata d'Anatra: cherrywood smoked sliced duck breast and watercress arugula. A loaded salad of greens with sliced duck meat. Nothing exceptional about it honestly.
- Calamari alla griglia: grilled squid cut into slices, homemade sausages stuffed with curry risotto, golden raisins, pistachios and prosciutto. The calamari are grilled, not enough though, the sausage is too hard, the rice too dry and there is an unneeded sweetness you don't want to feel in souch a plate.
Weird food, complicated Italian if I may call it, that lacks the simplicity and finesse the Italians are know for.
Let's see the Pasta and main plates.
The main plates:
- Crespelle con Funghi e Ricotta: homemade silk handkerchief Pasta, mixed mushrooms. Lemon zest, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese. They look exactly like handkerchiefs, large pasta papers - reminded me of Halawat el Jeben - mushrooms, chunks of ricotta and water; yes, water floating under the Pasta. The Pasta sheets sticking one on the other spoil the experience. Not a good plate.
- Spaghetti con Uova do Pesce: I never imagined eating Tobiko and spaghetti. Spaghetti cooked al dente, unpleasant Tobiko and a sweet fish taste I personally didn't like.
- Spaghetti con Mozzarella, Pomodori a Funghi: spaghetti, shiitake mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil and fresh tomato sauce. Finally a good one! Al dente spaghetti loaded with flavors, cooked cherry tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, a cocktail of cheese, the freshness of basil and a good tomato sauce. Enjoyed this plate.
- Risotto con Gambetta e Funghi: this deserves a loud laugh. Risotto is too soggy, mini shrimp chunks, three kinds of Licherons, Parmesan cheese you don't even feel... all together creating a blunt taste. Nothing close to being a risotto.
- Costolette d'Agnello: grilled Colorado free range lamb chops with potato gratin. A large plate with no decoration or suitable presentation has three lamb chops and three squares of potatoes. Extremely fatty yet tender and tasty meat, with tasteless potatoes.
The menu is written in Italian! I am not sure what to say but this Japanese Italian concept is not even close to being called an Italian restaurant.
It is claustrophobic, dark, hot, noisy and tight for space. This is not a place I recommend and doesn't deserve the $50/person price tag.