To recap: We entered Open Table’s Twitter contest and won a trip to New York City (check out Open Table: NYC Restaurants!). They flew us to the Big Apple, they put us up in a hotel and the sent us out to dinner at Top Chef Kitchen. We didn’t want to waste a moment of our good fortune so, when we landed around lunch time, we were hungry and on the hunt for a great place for a midday meal in Manhattan. Fortunately for us, Lidia Bastianich’s restaurant — Becco — was just down the street from our hotel.
Becco is everything you’d expect a New York City Italian restaurant to be — rustic, small and intimate, bright, warm and friendly. We were led to the back, to a tiny table under a glass canopy. We were up early in the morning for our flight, we’d had a long cab ride from the airport, it was past lunch time and we were *hungry*!! Thankfully, a bread basket, some roasted red pepper hummus and olives were delivered to us right away. The crispy, skinny bread sticks were perfect dipped in that hummus and I’m pretty sure we ate about 100 of them.
K couldn’t say no to their veal Parmigiana and I saw all the tables around us getting served up course after course of Becco’s three daily pasta selections, so I went with that. While snacking on bread and olives, we made quick friends with the two gentlemen sitting at the table next to us (and by “next to us,” I mean about six inches away from us). They owned an Italian restaurant and event center in New Jersey and were in the city for a trade show. They were supremely kind and awesome and could have come directly out of Central Casting — bada bing!
Then…our lunch arrived. As you can see, K’s veal was quite literally dinner plate-sized.
My daily pasta specials were penne with meat sauce, fresh pasta ribbons with a simple tomato sauce and mushroom ravioli.
Every single bite was phenomenal. The pasta ribbons were clearly very fresh as was the simple tomato sauce, redolent with basil. The meat sauce that accompanied the penne was elevated with warm spices (cinnamon definitely, possibly nutmeg as well). It was almost sweet, but was offset by the meatiness of the sauce (probably lamb, but I’m not 100 percent sure). The mushroom ravioli was just pure indulgence — thyme and butter — sweet, sweet butter. No seconds for me, I was conquered by one giant serving. We did, however, share a few scoops of frosty sorbet to cap off the meal.
Becco was so warm and homey, I didn’t want to leave, but we were soon off to unpack, explore a bit on foot then head off to visit cousins and their brand new sweet baby girl in Jersey City. We all enjoyed dinner at Thirty Acres, where K’s duck dish won the evening. The light was low and we were having too much fun and good conversation to document dinner, sorry. In fact, we chatted so long we almost missed the train back to New York City!
Stay tuned for day two and our dinner at Top Chef Kitchen.