Come on, admit it, you’re tired of hearing about my birthday. I am so grateful to my friends and family for making this birthday the most spectacular birthday I have ever had. As part of the celebration that is never ending, Spoon and Olive Fork bought tickets for the 3 of us to see a matinée of the Adams Family. The question then became, ‘Where to have lunch, where to have lunch?’ When the suggestion came out to try Becco, there were cheers, ooohs and aaaahs all around!
Becco has a wonderful prix fixe menu at both lunch and dinner aptly named the Sinfonia di Pasta. A choice of an appetizer, either Insalata Cesare or Antipasto Misto; bottomless pastas, there are 3 on the menu each day; and a fabulous dessert. The pasta is served table side and waiters rove the dining room with large pans full of pasta. You can eat as much or as little as you would like. The cost is $17.95 during lunch and $22.95 during dinner. A fantastic deal. A deal we had fully planned on trying. Those of you who read our blog regularly, wave your hands if you think we took advantage of this great deal. I really can’t see any hands waving from here, so you all would be right. No such luck! But let me back up a bit first.
Olive Fork arrived first. Olive Fork. actually, was quite early. Would you believe, that during a ridiculously crowded lunch service (matinée day, right smack in the middle of the theatre district), they sat Olive Fork at our table to wait. We were quite pleased and impressed. Lesser restaurants are not that thoughtful, though they really should be. Really, isn’t it that type of service that has diners returning again and again?
Another surprise was the iced tea. Fresh, cold, large glasses and bottomless. Oh, all you restaurants that charge for iced tea by the glass, there’s a reason places like Becco are so successful, they understand treating their clientele well, and 22 cents worth of iced tea is certainly not a strain on anyone’s budget!
Our last surprise was our table. We had a teeny, tiny table, stuffed in between 2 large round tables that were chock full of people. Now, while we are not serving sized cutlery, we certainly are not children’s sized cutlery. This table was so ridiculous. The waiters were literally climbing over us to serve the two tables on either side. This had disaster written all over it. A request to the wonderful host staff was all it took for us to be moved to another table. It wasn’t much bigger, but it was not as crowded.
Our waitress, Nicole, was lovely. Harried, yes, but lovely.
We didn’t make it through the menu to try the Sinfonia di Pasta. There were far too many glorious dishes on the menu to try. So we decided to split a few appetizers and a main course – which of course turned into 2 main courses! Our first choice for appetizer was a beautiful arugula salad with pears, gorgonzola and walnuts. Lightly dressed. There was a generous amount of pears and blue cheese and walnuts to go with our abundance of arugula. We loved the spiciness from the arugula with the sweet pears and savory blue cheese. Absolutely fantastic!
We had to try the Meatballs. Truly, if an Italian restaurant can’t master good meatballs, you know everything else is going to be terrible! These meatballs were great. They were gigantic -about spalding ball sized. The meatballs were fluffy and light, but still very rich in flavor. They seemed to be meatballs that were cooked in the sauce. It keeps them very tender being cooked that way. The sauce that the meatballs were swimming in was fresh and flavorful. And, of course, we couldn’t help but have a snowy cap of cheese grated over our meatballs!
The one thing we ordered that we had been drooling over on the menu online was the Polenta with Speck. This is one of the small places we had a glitch. We ordered the polenta with the speck, but what arrived was just plain old polenta with nothing on top! Nicole whisked away the offensive polenta and brought the right dish. So many great things, one small dish, can it be possible? Look at that photo, it was possible. The creamiest polenta you can imagine topped with melted cheese just starting to brown and just when you think it can’t get better – crispy, crunchy speck! If there weren’t so much more to come, we could have just ordered this dish over and over and over and over!
As we were ordering we were craning our necks to watch all the dishes passing by to see if there was something we were missing. One of the things we saw walk past us was the lasagna. This was Lasagna alla Bolognese. This was lasagna that was fragrant and delicious and the cheesy just brown and gooey on top. This was also a gigantic serving of lasagna! Layers of pasta, bolognese sauce, bechamel and spinach. There was a wonderfully warm and earthy touch of cinnamon throughout the lasagna. The lasagna sat nestled between a pool of bechamel sauce on one side and marinara on the other. Definitely worth the food envy we suffered before ordering it!
The other dish that strolled past our table that we simply couldn’t resist was the Osso Bucco alla Becco. This is Becco’s signature dish of a slow braised veal shank. The shank is braised with tomatoes, carrots, celery until the meat is falling off the bone tender. Served on the side of the osso bucco was farrotto tossed with butternut squash. The farrotto was amazing. Farrotto is simply farro cooking the way risotto is cooked – get it? farro risotto, farrotto. Clever. Took me a while to get that too. The farrotto was very really very good. That could have been a dish all by itself.
We had so much osso bucco and lasagna left over, we absolutely had to take it with us.
For dessert – because you all know the Fork, Knife and Spoon motto, there’s always room for dessert – we ordered the special Panna Cotta of the day. Here was our second glitch. What arrived was plain old panna cotta wiggling on a plate. We all sadly looked at it. Nicole must have seen the bewildered look on our faces and looked at the dessert, picked up the plate and came back with the right dessert. Chocolate and vanilla panna cotta. Oh, yum! A layer of rich, chocolatey balanced by the more mellow vanilla panna cotta on top. The panna cotta was drizzled with chocolate. On the side was a scoop of raspberry sorbet. Tangy and sweet and perfect with the creaminess of the panna cotta. The perfect way to end a perfect meal.
One of the nice things about the Becco menu are the page numbers that go along with the dishes! You can find the recipes for most of the dishes on the menu in Lidia’s books so you can recreate your favorites at home.
This is a great place to go before a matinee or evening performance on Broadway. Heck, this is a great place to go any time at all!
The restaurant was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Yes, I said Christmas! Fork was very pleased to see Becco, an Italian restaurant, not being afraid to celebrate a holiday. I don’t think it’s you or I that has a problem with each person being able to celebrate their own holiday, or my being able to enjoy and appreciate your holiday as well as my own. I think it comes from all of these people who are hell bent on being ‘politically correct’. The problem with being so politically correct is that that is usually far more insulting than “Merry Christmas” or ‘Happy Chanukah’. I am taking back my holiday! Buon Natale! Happy Chanukah! Let us all be safe and prosperous and happy and healthy and kind to each other in the New Year. Here’s to good friends, happy families, fantastic food and merriment!