Daily, noon-2:30pm and 6pm-11pm
L at Sixth Ave.; F, M at 14th St.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa
Picture Tokyo’s hottest Italian restaurant, and you’ve got the idea behind Basta Pasta. With a crack staff of Japanese chefs and servers, Toshi Suzuki’s comfortable Chelsea spot offers a subtle spin on classic Italian fare, with clean preparations, simple presentations, and gracious details. An artful “original” Caesar salad presents a hunk of romaine atop a pool of homemade dressing, dotted with cherry tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan. Refined grilled squid gets paired with smoky okra, scallion, and yet more cherry tomatoes. Pastas, like bow ties with salmon or “handkerchief” pasta with mushrooms, come al dente, their accompaniments balanced and rich. When ingredients sing this way, gimmicky “fusion” dishes, like spaghetti with tobiko and shiso, make little sense. Basta Pasta’s loftlike layout evokes Iron Chef: From the busy front bar, diners walk a runway through a bustling open kitchen to reach the high-ceilinged dining room. Young, cheerful servers operate with precision, but never make you feel rushed, which may be why so many solo diners feel at home here. Linger with a strong espresso and house-made dessert, like chocolate volcano cake with vanilla gelato.Recommended Dishes
Basta Pasta’s original Caesar salad, $9; homemade silk handkerchief pasta with mushrooms, $16; bow-tie pasta with salmon, spinach, and fresh tomatoes, $16