Bar B

Japanese-Italian food, also known as Itameshi (Italian food), is a particular sub-cuisine within Japan, which features unusual twists on classic Italian staples like pasta, pizza, and risotto. Its origins date as far back as the 1920s, when spaghetti first appeared in Japanese restaurants, along with ‘red sauce’ popularized in the 1940s by Italian-American GIs after the war. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Italian cuisine really took off in Japan as a more”friendly, cheap, and cheerful” option compared to French food.

There aren’t as many Japanese-Italian food joints in New York compared to the booming ramen scene, but among the few in the city, Basta Pasta rings a superior note. In 1985, restaurateur Toshi Suzuki opened the original Basta Pasta in Tokyo, and five years later, in New York, located in the Chelsea neighborhood. His New York success has allowed him to undertake creative new ventures like Bar B, an Italian standing wine bar, inspired by small plate bars in Spain and Italy.

Open the menu and you’ll find Italian classics with Basta Pasta’s signature twist, a selection of carefully curated Italian wine (displayed neatly along the walls), and authentic Italian espresso. Naomi and I headed over on a Thursday night for some wine, delicious eats, and good conversations with friends. We started out with a cheese plate, a beautiful range of both hard and soft cheeses paired perfectly with small baguette slices. Our main dishes included Bar B’s seasonal creamy mushroom risotto, as well as their signature Fusilli, a cheesy concoction of finely diced prosciutto and porcini mushrooms. For the more carnivorous variety, we hear the house marinated skirt steak with potato salad is a standout!

If you don’t mind standing, Bar B is the perfect place to grab a bite or share a few glasses of wine with a friend or two. You’re sure to enjoy the soft lighting and cozy European atmosphere.

Bar B
84 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011
www.barbnyc.com

Uncle Boons

With its dark wood interior and brick walls covered in vintage Thai artwork, Uncle Boons is a darkly lit den that’s both charming and inviting located right in the heart of Nolita. We were immediately seated right under a window with hanging plants dangling from the ceiling, a fresh contrast to the restaurant’s dark interior.

To start out our meal, we both ordered a glass of summery cocktails—Naomi got the Watermelon and Campari (watermelon, campari, and Cremant de Loire) and I got the Guava Sour (guava, botanist gin, lime, basil, and St. Germain), which was our favorite. For an appetizer, we got the Pork and Rice Sour Sausage ($8), a delightfully fragrant dish with hints of jasmine rice and other Thai spices that lay atop a bed of spicy cabbage salad. Finally, for our main dishes, we got the Kao Pat Puu ($26 – pictured), a traditional crab fried rice with egg, cilantro, and lime. This dish came with large chunks of real crab (not imitation crab!) and a spicy and tangy side sauce that matched perfectly with the savory fluffy rice. We also got the Massaman Neuh ($25), which came with boneless beef ribs that melted in your mouth—we can imagine had been simmering in a pot for a long time—along with Massaman curry, mini potatoes, red onion, peanuts and green peppercorn. Portions were quite generous, leaving us filled to the brim by the end of our meal.

For the more adventurous, Uncle Boons offers garlic and soy sauce marinated frog legs over glass noodles and another dish with green curry snails – maybe next time!

Uncle Boons
7 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(646) 370-6650
www.uncleboons.com