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.
New York City is filled with delicious Italian cuisine that many have come to call their comfort food. The large selection can be quite overwhelming, so when you do find a favorite place, it’s one that you’ll keep coming back to. That one restaurant for us is Barano in South Williamsburg. Barano feels high end but still approachable, polished but manages to hit that comfort-food level. It’s a surprisingly all-encompassing restaurant that’s perfect for family dinners, date night, and even Sunday brunch.
Wednesday nights seemed to be one of their quiet nights, where even at 7pm, the restaurant stayed half-full with just the right amount of chatter (perfect time to go if you’re looking for a quiet place to dine!). We were seated at a dimly lit corner with a full view of the beautiful, dark-wood furnished interior. That night our appetite took the better of us, and we decided to order quite a spread: antipasto consisting of both salted and smoked mozzarella and thinly sliced prosciutto, meatballs made from 21-day dry-aged beef with herb ricotta, bucatini with wood-roasted maitake mushroom, brown, butter, basil pesto, and bottarga, and finally, a zucchini pizza garnished with beautiful zucchini blossoms. Our favorites were the smoked mozzarella brought out in a beautiful glass dome lid, where upon lifting it, the smoke dissipated leaving a beautiful aroma behind. The meatballs were light and fluffy, doused in a delightful sauce. And last but not least, the bucatini made with mushrooms was the perfect dish to start off the fall season, it’s earthy taste combined with the tangy pesto and handmade noodles made for a one-of-a-kind plate.
As the new year unfolds before us, our hope is to continue and share our food adventures and possibly some new ventures of our own with our dear readers. We wish each and every one of you a happy and successful new year!
Without further ado, we would like to introduce a lovely restaurant overlooking Gramercy Park on 21st and Lexington Avenue, a perfect spot to grab some breakfast with friends on a Saturday afternoon. Maialino is an Italian restaurant with an atmosphere of a trattoria, a casual Italian eatery with a rustic charm felt in their decor and food. The restaurant is divided into four sections, the bar, the dinning room, the cucina which acts as a divide and where the barista and salami are stationed, and finally, the private dining room where special events can be held.
With very hungry stomachs, we headed over to Maialino after New Years Day to catch up and enjoy a warm cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast. We ordered the excellent porchetta (roast pork) sandwich consisting of a fluffy ciabatta, two fried eggs, and fresh arugula. This breakfast sandwich comes with thinly sliced pork that is extremely tender and makes it very easy to bite into. Another delightful aspect of this dish was the sunny side up eggs. If you like your eggs runny, you will thoroughly enjoy how the yolk adds a creaminess and a savory kick to this dish. And, if you want to elevate your sandwich to another level, order a side of their incredibly thick and crispy black pepper pancetta, and add a few slices.
Maialino is open for reservations and did we mention they keep the coffee flowing?
Alidoro is a rare gem tucked away in the edge of Soho. Located on Sullivan between Spring and Broome, this small establishment is cash only, no substitutions. You don’t go here for the service, you go here for their no-bullshit, delicious Italian sub sandwiches filled with prosciutto or salami, arugula, along with refreshing pelligrino.
During lunch time, there’s usually a long line that goes out the door. No need to worry about waiting too long though, the place is very small, and the service is fast. The most you’ll wait after ordering a sandwich is probably about 6 minutes.
Naomi and I got the Michaelangelo sandwich. The bread is carved out, then drizzled with baslamic vinegar and olive oil. After this process comes the assembling of the other ingredients, delicious layers of prosciutto, arugula, a generous amount of provolone cheese, and a dash of hot peppers. We also recommend the Matthew which is a slight variation of the Michaelangelo. The Matthew consists of prosciutto, mozzerella cheese and arugula.