I am a big fan of TV's Italian chef, Lidia Bastianich! I love watching her cooking show on the public TV channel. I was very excited when I was able to make reservations to dine at one of her restaurants-- "Becco"-- in New York City in March, 2010, for our day trip.
I was amazed when we arrived for our 4:45pm reservation that the restaurant and bar area were already full as New Yorkers tend to dine later in the evening! However, we were seated immediately. The decor was refined Tuscan and the atmosphere somewhat frenetic but friendly. The dining space was a little too compact for me as the tables on either side of us were at less than an arm's length away.
Our server was with us in minutes, and as I had previously looked online at the menu, my daughter and I were ready to order the "Sifonia di Pasta" which was a choice of "Insalata Cesare" or "Antipasto Misto," and a 3-pasta entree served tableside. Shortly thereafter, someone brought us a complimentary, wooden tray filled with fantastic homemade bread &, breadsticks, a variety of olives (non-pitted) and white-bean dip with olive oil. You could have made a meal on these items alone!
Quickly thereafter our Caesar salads appeared and I have to say it was probably the best I've ever had! Next, in a much too rapid-fire succession, came 3 types of pasta: seafood risotto with large chunks of lobster, spaghetti marinara, and rigatoni pesto. Though the entrees were OK, the rigatoni was under-cooked---not just 'al dente.' Our meal was so rushed that we became uncomfortable. The bottle of sparkling water that we ordered was removed before we were finished with it, as were the complimentary appetizers. In the end we left some food on our plates, which were quickly whisked away. Needless to say we did not order dessert, coffee, or tea.
From the time we were seated to the time we left, we had only spent about 45 minutes in the restaurant! It was not the leisurely Italian dining experience I had hoped for! Our theater tickets were for an 8 p.m. performance so we had too much time to wait, and too little time to see any of the larger NYC attractions.
Our meals were $22.95 each, plus about $6 for the sparkling water---not bad for a popular New York City restaurant. I left a 20% tip (which is customary) only because it was New York City and maybe the meal was rushed because the service was too good. All in all, my excitement over going to the restaurant ended in my great disappointment.
Favorite Dish: My favorite part of the meal had to be the complimentary bread, olives and white-bean dip along with the Ceasar salad. I would have been more satisfied to spend the 45 minute meal with those 2 offerings then the main course.
If you enjoy Italian food and are catching a Broadway show, Becco is a great choice. There is an $18 pre fix lunch and a $23 pre fix dinner menu, as well as host of wines that are only $25. The food is excellent and well priced, even if you go off the pre fix menu.
If you are a fan of Lidia Bastianich, this is one of her restaurants. Also, check out her newly opened Eataly (Fifth Avenue between W. 23rd and W. 24th) - she and her son along with (Molto) Mario Batali have joined forces in this amazing and inspiring Italian marketplace. You can browse the food and wine and even grab a bite to eat in one of the 7 "restaurants".
Brownstone in the theatre district with many small rooms & a terrace. White table clothes, attentive service, and exceptional food at a good value. We make reservations well in advance.
Favorite Dish: We love the salads and unlimited table side pastas. Each of three pastas is different with a different sauce and just absolutely wonderful.
A great bargain spot in Hell's Kitchen, Becco serves reasonably priced Italian cuisine in large portions. There's also a top-notch wine list all priced at $25 a bottle. I first read about Becco on this site when I researched the best restaurants in NYC that are also cheap:
Favorite Dish: Becco has a lunch and dinner pasta special, each for about $20. It's a great value for a salad or grilled vegetables plus assorted seafood, followed by unlimited service of the chef's three daily pasta options. You can't beat that!
The entire block, 300 West 46th Street, is full of interesting restaurants. Becco, at lunch, is a teriffic deal and wonderful food. They feature several pastas on a "prix fix" menu and you can try all three and have 2nds (and 3rds, for all I know). Another great feature is their wine list that includes dozens of Italian wines, all priced at $25.00.