although i'm trying to save money, i can't completely close myself off from going out. especially when i live right next to and work in a place like NYC where there's so much to do, particularly eating and drinking.
case in point: i haven't seen Stitch in forever so we made plans to meet up for dinner. since we're both temping in the city right now and get out mad early from work (well, usually, until recently for me, but that's a whole different story) we also made plans to meet up for drinks first before going to dinner. i made all the drinks and dinner suggestions because i have an unending list of restaurants and places i want to check out in NYC and luckily for me Stitch is very flexible and accomodating. thanks Stitch!
we had drinks at Zampa, a wine bar i'd looked up on-line and the menu looked affordable and it was pretty close to where we were having dinner. the venue has a very romantic and relaxing ambience. the place isn't that big but that adds to it's charm. it's exactly the kind of place i would want to go on a date. i arrived horribly late (it's been a bad habit ever since i moved back to NJ. i just can't seem to properly gauge the amount of time it takes for me to arrive anywhere in the city) and found Stitch sitting at the bar with a glass of wine and a book. Egg and BBT were supposed to be meeting us as well but hadn't arrived yet (they ended up being ever more horribly late than me-which made me feel better). Knowing that we were going to be at least 4 ppl, we asked to be seated at a table. the staff was very acccomodating in allowing us to sit at a table until 7:30 pm because the table was reserved at that time. it worked out perfectly for us because Stitch and i had dinner reservations at 7:45 pm.
they have a medium-sized Italian wine list that ranges from moderate to expensive in price range. being the cheap skate that i am we ordered the $30 bottle of Salento Primitivo 2005, Le Sciare (Puglia). don't ask me what it means, but i can tell you it was very nice. slightly bold but not overly so, which is exactly how i like my red wine (hence pinot noirs tend to be my go-to red wine choice). we also ordered an antipasti plate. we had a choice of 3 salumi or i formaggi for $12 or 3 crostini for $8. we went with duck prosciutto and bresaola (i think) and robiola di tre latti which is a cheese mix of sheep, cow, and goat. the cheese was amazing because it was soft enough to spread like sheep or goat cheese but not too soft. they gave us a small basket of crostini to go with the cheese and a dollop of some type of yellow preserve which tasted like honey. eating the preserve and the cheese together was heaven.
after drinks Stitch and i headed over for dinner at Basta Pasta which i've been dying to try since forever. Basta Pasta fuses Japanese and Italian cuisine together and since i'm a big fan of both cuisines, it just makes sense that i would like this restaurant. continuing our wine trend, we ordered a bottle of red for around $30-something dollars and since we'd already snacked at Zampa, we skipped appetizers and went straight for entrees. i was torn between the Spaghetti con Uovo de Pesce (spaghetti with tobiko and shiso) or the Linguini ai Ricci de Mare (linguini with fresh sea urchin and basil in pink sauce but finally opted for the latter because of my love of the uni. Stitch ordered the Spaghetti con Prosciutto e Parmigiano which is spaghetti with parmigiano reggiano and parma prosciutto which is tossed in a half wheel of parmesan cheese which they wheel out to the table and toss for you table-side. it's a very cool presentation.
Stitch's meal was really good because the tossing of the spaghetti in the parmesan wheel provides enough saltiness in conjunction with the prosciutto to make the dish simple but flavorful. my linguini came with about 4 pieces of fresh sea urchin on top which i had to restrain myself from gobbling up all at once. i REALLY liked the meal although i can understand why some ppl might think it a little bland but i thought it was perfect because the pink sauce wasn't too heavy. after all, the restaurant does japanese and italian fusion. how else are you going to mix ultra-light tastes with extremely heavy flavor? i thought the marriage was just right.
after dinner we ordered a chestnut millecrepe desert but i was pretty stuffed at that point. the dessert was good but nothing extraordinary. the millecrepe wasn't light enough and the chestnut flavor wasn't bold or sweet enough as a dessert. after this culinary adventure, Stitch and i stumbled to our respective homes totally sated.