Friday, May 1, 2009

Becco

Some of my Boston buddies came down to NYC for dinner. We went to Becco for variety and convenience. Also, I grew up watching Lidia Bastianich on PBS. I make an effort to go to her restaurants. Anyhow, my friends are very simple when it comes to food. They know what they like and they don't really venture out of their comfortable food groups. In fact, one is mostly a vegetarian. She loves her salads and soups. And the other will only eat chicken as her meat. Although, recently she has shown a very strong liking to different South American foods. Good for her! One of Becco's great deals for wine is that anything on the back of the food menu is $25 for a bottle. We started with a bottle of Bastianich White. It's light, crisp, and a little fruity. We don't know much about wine. We just want it to taste good and easy on the palate. Next the food. Upon hearing the the pastas for their special, two of us order that. The pasta special includes caesar salad or antipasti misto, and all-you-can-eat pasta from their three daily selections. Tonight they have penne in tomato basil marinara, semolina gnocchi, and linguine with mushrooms and roast pork. My other friend orders two appetizers as her meal. She has a small appetite. She has a sampling of cured tuna that is sliced thin like prosciutto, and the antipasti misto. First, my antipasti misto. It consisted of grilled and roasted vegetables and some seafood. The seafood tonight was fried swordfish, and an octopus and onion salad. The vegetables were mediocre. Simple and definitely something that I could do at home. The seafood was okay. The fish was cold but moist. The octopus was slightly chewy.
Antipasti Misto - Vegetables (clockwise from left): zucchini, tomato, mushrooms, carrot, mozzarella ball, asparagus, beans.

Antipasti Misto - Seafood (left to right): octopus and onion salad; fried swordfish
Next, my trio of pasta. The worst was unanimously the linguine with mushrooms and pork. It came with a very strong fragrance of mushrooms. It was quite overwhelming. It should have been a clue to how the dish would have tasted but somehow I expected something different. But unfortunately, I was proved wrong again. The whole dish reeked of mushrooms. I like mushrooms but this was too much. It was all I can taste. There wasn't any pork taste at all. In fact, there was no pork to be found on my plate. I looked into the pan when the waiter came by again, and there was no pork to be found in there either. Where's my pork?! And that's not the worst part of the dish. It was in fact the pasta itself. It was definitely undercooked. It was too hard and uncomfortable to swallow. I know fresh pasta is suppose to be al dente but this was brutal. I left the remains on my plate untouched.
Pasta Special (clockwise from left): Semolina gnocchi with cream sauce, penne in tomato basil marinara, linguine with mushrooms and pork
The okay pasta was the penne in tomato basil marinara. It was a very basic sauce. I like basic. If it's done right, it can be fantastic. It was just mediocre here. Again, something that I can and have made at home. However, I couldn't find a speck of basil in my 3 servings of this. Again, I looked into the pan when the waiter came around. No basil there either. Where's my basil?! On a brighter note, the penne was cooked fine. The best pasta was the semolina gnocchi. They looked like giant scallops but instead they were gooey and cheesy with a cream sauce. This dish was the best by far. But it was really heavy and filling. I could only do 2 servings of this. I should have just had this and I would've been much happier. I do believe that they made the semolina pasta into a log, then sliced the pieces and pan seared them. Later they added the cream sauce. I only say this because there was a nice crust on each piece. It added great texture to a otherwise very soft pasta. My friend who had the tuna didn't like it at all. She did admit that it wasn't something that she expected when she ordered it. She never had cured tuna before. Neither have I. And it came thinly sliced on a plate. It really did resemble prosciutto. But my friend hardly eats any meat. She has very light meals. But when she does have meat, it isn't cured meats like from a deli or charchuterie. It actually was making her stomach churn all night. I felt bad for her. With our mishaps, it may seem that Becco was a wrong choice. But I've been here before. And it's been very good to me. Maybe this was a fluke. Restaurant experiences can be funny like that. But I can't put all the blame in one area. It's also the company that you keep. I didn't really go with the most adventurous eaters. So I guess it was a mix of everything. In the end, I'll end up going to Becco again. But I'll be sure not to get certain things again. Becco 355 West 46th Street New York, NY 10036 (212) 397-7597 www.becco-nyc.com

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