Truly wonderful Italian meals are few and far between out here in the woods. So when The Foodie treks northward to New York City, he never misses a visit to Becco, Lidia Bastianich's emporium of Italian eats there on “Restaurant Row” at 355 W. 46th, between 8th and 9th. It all starts at the tiny bar where The Foodie, at the suggestion of an obviously upselling but nonetheless helpful barkeep, was first introduced to the silky softness of Boodle's Gin. The crystal clear elixir provided the proper lubrication for the symphony of Italian dishes that was to come.
You can choose from the aptly named Sinfonia di Pasta, consisting of an unlimited supply of three different pastas du jour, preceeded by your choice of a Caesar Salad or Antipasta Misto, all reasonably priced at $17.95/$22.95 for lunch/dinner respectively. You can still get the pastas as a side if you order from the regular menu. I have been from one extreme to the other, from the tender and savory Veal Chop and garlic mashers (Costoletto di Vitello ala Joe –Lidia's son and partner. By the way, add the truffles for $5 more. It's worth it.), to the more pedestrian but delightful Veal Parmigiana (perfectly fried and loaded with creamy cheese). Last time I had the Peperoni Ripieni (Cubanelles, stuffed with a mixture of beef, pork and veal, served alongside a mound of sauced and wonderfully al dente Spaetzle). You have to be careful not to fill up on the pastas, or you'll be carrying one of those aluminum-foil swans out of there and leaving it in the back seat of the cab.
It's noisy and fun as the servers bustle about with trays of pasta and gigantic meatballs. reservations are always suggested (212-397-7597). Click here to check out their menus. (L., D., Bar) Price range: Moderate +..