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Sep 28, 2006 11:58 PM

Theatre district italian? and good dessert?

I am looking for a place to eat good Italian food after I see a play on West 46th on Sunday. I have only been to Carmines and I do like the food there but I am looking to try something new. Traditioanl good Italian food, not fancy italian, not real expensive, with a nice romantic atmosphere if possible but not necessary, and really good desserts. If the restaurant doesnt have good desserts but good food that will do, in that case any other suggestions for a good dessert place afterwords?

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  1. Becco, Lidia Bastianich's restaurant, has a deal with 3 kinds of unlimited fresh pasta, Caesar salad and yummy appetizers for $21.95. Or, if you get a main dish, you can add unlimited pasta for $9. I also had their dessert platter with ricotta cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, bread pudding, panacotta, hazelnut gelato and peach sorbet. It was divine!

    It's at 355 W 46 St.

    5 Replies
    1. re: thesu

      The last time we were at Becco, the dessert I had was excellent, but the 3 pastas offered for the special were mediocre. Also, as I've mentioned before on this board, they jam a lot of tables into each of the rooms, and the noise level is hideously high, making civilized conversation impossible. Not my idea of a comfortable dining experience and definitely not romantic!

      Our recent experience at Roberto Passon was a good one. The food is nicely prepared, and our desserts -- tiramisu for me and tartufo for my husband -- were delicious. Good service and pleasant atmospherics. Not particularly romantic overall, but there is one table for two tucked away at the rear of one of the banquettes that has an intimate feel.

      1. re: RGR

        Had another lovely pre-theatre dinner at Roberto Passon just last week; standouts were the pumpkin ravioli with fried sage and the profiteroles in a rich chocolate sauce. We've had very good food and service here and will certainly return.

        However, I wanted to note that we were surprised by the price of a special appetizer we ordered (burrata with mushrooms - which was very good, BTW). Their apps normally run in the 8-10 dollar range; when I reviewed the bill, I saw that this one was $19 - more than most of their primi. We hadn't asked the price and didn't mention it to anyone; it wasn't a big deal. However, given the general reasonableness of their pricing, it was considerably higher than we anticipated. Maybe we'll ask for prices on the specials next time...

        1. re: Striver

          In this computer age, how difficult can it be for a restaurant to print out the specials *with prices* and include this sheet along with the regular menu? Obviously, a rhetorical question.

          Your experience with that special is exactly why I intensely dislike the practice of waiters' recitation of specials, particularly when they don't include the costs. Actually, from my experience, it's rare when they do tell you the prices, figuring that most diners are not going to ask. I am never shy about asking, and you'd be surprised (or maybe not) how often the server doesn't know and has to go off to find out. Makes me suspect that it's all very calculated.

          1. re: Striver

            Burrata is usually very expensive no matter where you order it. I've never seen it at less than $10 retail and since it is highly perishiale, I assume there is a lot of waste. It's amazingly delicious though!

            1. re: Husky

              Oh, no question that it's good. I've had it before (which led to our ordering it at Passon's). However, to a certain extent price can be controlled by portion size; the portion we were served was large - enough for two, really. They could have served half of that as an appetizer (at roughly half the price), and it would have been pefectly satisfactory in all respects.

              Really, my only problem with it was the disproportionate cost as compared to their general scale. Had the waiter mentioned the price, we might have ordered it anyway (it really is delicious); but under the circumstances I felt slightly sand-bagged. I'm with RGR on this one; a listing of specials with their prices is simple enough these days. There's no good reason I can think of that more restaurants don't do it.

      2. I second the not going to Becco recommendation. Both my roommate and I were extremely underwhelmed by the pasta special. All the pastas were overcooked and gummy as a result.
        I like Roberto Passon too but my go-to Italian restaurant in the neighborhood is Maria Pia. The food is uniformly good, and the desserts, though not fancy are pretty delicious. The space is also roomier and more comfortable than roberto passon IMO.

        1. I was at Becco for the first time On Sat. 11/4. I thought the tables seemed too close together, but I did not find the noise level to be too overwhelming. Maybe we were just lucky that day. Service was very good. My opinion about the food is varied. My Caesar Salad was bland and nondescript. The Three Pasta Entree (Penne Bolognese, Mushroom Ravioli and Spaghetti Marinara)was enjoyable, but not extraordinary. The dessert was the highlight of the meal. The Chocolate Mousse Cake with Vanilla-Rum Gelato was out of this world. If there wasn't so many people around, I would have licked that plate!

          1. A little late for this trip but...we ate at Lattanzi pre-theater the other night, and enjoyed it very much. We shared baby artichokes sauteed in oil and garlic (their signature dish) which was outstanding. We also had good pasta with ragu and chicken cutlet (pounded as thinly as I've ever seen) milanese. All of their desserts are homemade, and the cannoli (which I had) was great. With a bottle of wine, espresso and one after dinner drink, the price was not outrageous for what and where it is. The atmosphere is cozy and attractive, and the service was fine.