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Your comments on 4 restaurants

I'm coming to NYC for 3 days in March and want to try places totally new to me. Several friends have made several restaurant recommendations focusing on the following 4 places:

* Basta Pasta: Japan meets Italy in the Flatiron District
* Nougatine: Jean Georges' more casual place at the Trump Int'l Hotel, Columbus Circle
* Maze: less formal end of the London Hotel, midtown
* Casa Mono: Mario Batali's tapas bar at Irving Place.

Any chowhound thoughts and comments on these places?

Also, I've been waiting for the Standard Hotel to open in the Meatpacking District. Is it ready for a bar visit?

Thanks for your recommendations.

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  1. Stayed at The Standard on Friday night. Really cool hotel and loved the rooms. The bar is open. Had a drink at the bar downstairs before dinner...then drinks with friends after dinner. It's just cocktail service, so no physical bar to be seen. Service was great and the atmosphere is I guess what one would expect. Chic, international etc, maybe a little too L.A. All the tables were taken up and they were putting groups in the lobby to sit for drinks. It looks like there will be much more room once the weather gets better as there is significant outdoor space. The hotel itself is definitely worth a stay as well. Good times.

    1. We thoroughly enjoyed our one dinner at Maze. The cuisine is superb, service is friendly and capable, the large space has pleasant decor, and there is a nice buzz without it being uncomfortably loud.

      While the food at Casa Mono is very good, I abhor the exceedingly cramped seating when it's busy. If that would bother you, the best way to avoid it is to go off-hours, between 2 and 5 p.m.

      1. I've eaten 2 meals at Nougatine in the last few months & both were excellent. For exceptional value, dine early or late, not prime time, and take advantage of RW prices.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rmis32

          Agreed on Nougatine...thoroughly enjoyed my dinner there.


          1. re: Rmis32

            I also love Nougatine for lunch and dinner. Note: no hour restrictions on the $24 lunch or $35 dinner. A quasi-permanent "Winter Promotion" as opposed to a limited Restaurant Week. One of the best deals in NYC given the attention to detail: lovely ambiance, service, and especially food.

          2. Basta Pasta is terrific. Informal, garcious, delicious.

            1. I have only eaten lunch at Nougatine, but it has always been very good. This included one trip during restaurant week (which I generally hate, because I find that most restaurants do not really try to do a good job), which was possibly the best lunch I had there. Considering how casual the restaurant is, I thought the service has been consistently excellent.

              Casa Mono's food is delicious, but I find the restaurant incredibly loud and claustrophobic. As long as you are not planning to catch up with an old friend and want to focus on food (and wine), you should have a good experience.

              Basta Pasta is a favorite of mine. When I last went (about a month ago), they had an appetizer special that was a delicious set of seared beef cubes. I was a little worried that the presentation was a little fussy (it was very pretty, but almost too much so), but it was totally delicious. Here are some of my favorites from the regular menu: the baked mushroom appetizer, the duck and arugula salad, the uni and tobiko pastas and the crespelle. I have to admit that I have never ventured away from the pastas when I have eaten at Basta Pasta, so I leave it to someone else to recommend any non-pasta main dishes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Saint Chole

                how does Greenwich Grill stack up to Basta Pasta?

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  Greenwich Grill is IMO better than Basta Pasta

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    From my point of view, they are both excellent. I have only eaten at Greenwich Grill twice and had pasta on both occasions. In each case, the pasta was a perfect al dente. I think that Greenwich Grill has a more interesting menu on the whole than Basta Pasta. The space and service at Greenwich Grill is also more formal (I mean that as a compliment).

                2. Been to all 4 and some quite frequently, so here are my thoughts:

                  - Basta Pasta - depending on how familiar you are with this kind of cuisine (Japanese take on Italian food), the experience can be quite different. People unfamiliar with it (esp Asian) tend to think it's very good. But if you have had good ones in Japan or even LA, then Basta Pasta is just average. Sort of like the ones you can find in those chains in Japan. Nothing too special.

                  - Nougatine - I mentioned several times that Nougatine can be good but it is very inconsistent. It's not the same kitchen as Jean Georges' main dining's kitchen, so I will highly recommend you choosing JG's main dining room instead.

                  - Maze - Like RGR, I love Maze. The food I have there is consistently good, and the service is top-notch.

                  - Casa Mono - Love the food, hate the space. The tapas there is probably one of the best in town, and there are a lot of exotic choices that you can't find else where. However, it is so cramped that during peak time it is impossible to conduct a conversation. All I could hear was the people at the next table and those next to them talking. Insane. If you are dining solo, then I recommend sitting at the bar and watch the chefs preparing your food (though you will end up smelling like grease when you walk out). Or choose lunch or afternoon when the restaurant isn't that crowded.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kobetobiko


                    Looks as though you also agree with me about Casa Mono's incredibly uncomfortable cramped seating. They've really shoe-horned those tables into what is a small space. Also, the far from welcoming reception personnel are in dire need of lessons from the "Danny Meyer School of Hospitality."

                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      I definitely need your recommendations on places to go in Japan. Having lived in Tokyo (granted, I last lived there eight years ago), I never had an experience that equaled one of the many I have had at Basta Pasta. I was only unfortunate enough to have a friend take me to a chain pasta place once in Tokyo and it was pretty foul. Maybe I have just had lucky experiences at Basta Pasta.

                      1. re: Saint Chole

                        Many thanks for your replies and recommendations. As a result, I'm going to visit all 4 of the places I mentioned (Basta Pasta, Maze, Casa Mono and Nougatine) during my March visit to NYC. Can't wait.

                        Thanks again.