Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Basso 56

January 17

I go to press dinners thrown by publicist Susan Rike because, well, it's free dinner, and because sometimes I meet interesting people at them. Her approach to introducing media to her restaurants is to host dinners of, say, between three and ten journalists at one table. She'll generally hold three such dinners over the course of two or three weeks.
I knew most of the people at last night's dinner at Basso 56 — a new contemporary Italian place near Patsy's, the old-school Italian-American landmark that was Frank Sinatra's favorite restaurant and a good place to go for a veal chop. But I hadn't met Adam Sherrett. He's a nightlife editor of Shecky's, a Michigan native who arrived in New York last August by way of San Diego.
Susan began to tell the story of Basso 56's owners, husband-and-wife team Paolo and Ellen Catini. They recently closed Basso Est on the Lower East Side and opened the new, larger restaurant which Susan said was in a less out-of-the-way location.
"Wait, wasn't Basso Est on Houston and Orchard?" Adam asked.
Houston and Orchard is right on the border between the Lower East Side and the East Village, so if you're a young New York hipster it's about as good a place as any to mark as the center of the universe. But apparently the Catinis were looking for a different crowd. And Midtown West, between the theater district and Lincoln Center certainly is a fine place to attract diners. Management said they were drawing more neighborhood foodies than pre-theater folks, just as they intended.
Paolo Catini hails from the Italian region of Abruzzo.
What we ate:

Bruschetti with burrata and speck
non-vintage Prosecco Crede, Bisol, (Veneto)

Gamberi e Canellini (shrimp and Tuscan white beans) with rosemary and olive oil
Fagottino alla polpa di aragosta (crêpes filled with confit of lobster, with tomato and chive velouté)
2005 Kerner, Abbazzia di Novacella, (Alto Adige)

Saffron risotto with asparagus and quail
Primitivo, Ca’ntele, 2004 (Puglia)

Filetto di dentice in Brodetto (striped bass) in white wine and lemon broth with fennel and Manila clams
Grillo, Firriato, 2005 (Sicily)

Petto d'Anatra in Crescione (roasted duck breast) with balsamic reduction, sautéed watercress and dried figs
Nebbiolo delle Langhe, Produttori del Barbaresco, 2004 (Piedmont)

Assorted desserts, including a crepe in chocolate syrup and a sort of hazelnut napoleon.
Brachetto d’Acqui, Marenco (Piedmont)


Frank N Catini said...

Who is this CATINI ? Just wondering since my dad Francesco Pietro Catini also came from Abruzzi (Tossicia). The entrance way to the Gran Sasso.
Is it possible there may be relationship here ?


Frank N Catini
Philadelphia, Pa

Bret Thorn said...

I don't see why not. Perhaps you could call the restaurant and ask them (212-265-2610).

Anonymous said...

I am very dissappointed on this place.After reading different reviews I was expecting a fair meal but the food here is really bland and the worst was that the manager was very rude when i asked to cook my meat to the right temperature.

jimmy Clio said...

too expensive for the quality of the food and rude managing staff

Bret Thorn said...

Well, Anonymous and Jimmy Clio, that’s why I don’t review the restaurants where I eat. My experience as a food writer who isn’t even trying to be anonymous might be very different from that of other customers.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe anyone who goes to Basso 56 ever feels like they're anything but family!!! The staff is incredible. I'm a neighborhood person who actually had lunch there today. So if you think you're slighted in any way while dining in the best Italian restaurant in midtown, you might want to take a look in the mirror and do some self analysis, because guess what? It's you! Not them.

Bret Thorn said...

Whoa, easy there sailor. No need to start pointing fingers. Restaurants have many moving parts and everyone slips up once in awhile.

Anonymous said...

My buddy from Chicago is coming to the city tomorrow. We are going to give this place a try! Love Italian and are pretty hard to please....but I hear good things about this place....Will give my review by Wednesday!

John "fontenella" de Asti

Anonymous said...

Underwhelming, poorly executed, food. You could do better many other places. The high ratings on TripAdvisor are a mystery to me.