Saturday, November 25, 2006


Well, my dinner plans went as scheduled. I arrived at the Basilica (not Basilico as I've seen some folks spell it) and was astounded to see just how small the place was - and just how crowded it was, too! Always a sign of either a good place or an overhyped place (or both, though the two rarely converge).

Before going in I noticed a bunch of take-out menus in front of the restaurant - always good to remember just what I ate, as if it wasn't memorable enough. I also saw a menu posted in the window with a $21.95 prix fixe "Pre-Theatre" menu. It came with one bottle per two people (or two glasses per one), an antipasto, an entrée and a dessert. I went for that, walked in, and saw just how truly tiny the place was! They went outside and got the table that the menus were sitting on, and put it in a place for me that was almost on top of the front door – probably violating some health code, but oh well.

Italian bread and olives (careful, not pitted!) are served just before you receive your meal. This would not be remarkable but for the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The oil was standard oil, but the vinegar was sweeter than I’ve ever tasted it, and a little chocolatey even!

The first course was the antipasto, a dish of mozzarella caprese. It had the wonderful flavors of garlic and salt – something I don’t usually taste on mozzarella. The tomatoes slices were actually firm, though there was too little basil for my taste.

The main course wasn’t as memorable as the antipasto, but good anyway. This chicken pizzaiola was in a chunky “hot” tomato sauce (not hot at all) with mushrooms and onions, The chicken breast wasn’t stringy or difficult to cut, but was not that exciting, and definitely made the sauce stand out more.

For my dessert, I had chocolate mousse. Decadent, absolutely decadent. Next time I’m in New York, I’d go back just for that. Okay, that and the mozzarella caprese.

I will have to find these dishes in our own Little Italy back in Bawlmer. I’m not sure who serves this mozzarella dish, or the pizzaiola for that matter. But if I can’t find them, I can always replicate.

One word on the wines: I admit completely that I am not a wine connoisseur at all. I don’t like wine; I prefer beer. But wine came with the meal and I went for a Cabernet. I don’t know if they took their socks off before they made it, but I did not enjoy this wine. It was vinegary (the vinegar, actually, tasted less vinegary than this red wine). I asked for a different glass for my second one, a white wine which tasted hardly better. The wine was the only thing I did not finish in an otherwise delicious meal. After tax and tip, the whole thing came to about $27 or $28 (between that, but I always round up when tipping).

And one final word: Taxis can be expensive in New York! After going from hotel to restaurant, and show to bar to another bar and back (I did go all over the city, from UWS to Theater District to Chelsea to Midtown and back), it cost me $60! My own stupidity, I’m afraid. Tomorrow I'll take the Metro everywhere, including my trip back to Penn Station.