Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

Famous sign off phrase of Lidia Bastianich, Italian chef and TV personality, meaning "everyone to the table to eat!".  (Fun fact: Though her cuisine is Italian, she's from a region of Italy that is now in Croatia.  I dunno, I always thought this trivia about her was so interesting, and an insight into how country borders can change so arbitrarily.)

Lidia (I pretend I'm on first-name basis with her) has a very cute restaurant in Manhattan's Theater District.  As you walk down West 46th Street, you realize why it's nicknamed Restaurant Row: dozens of restaurants and bars stacked upstairs and downstairs and all next to each other.  I say "upstairs and downstairs" because most of the restaurants are three steps down from street level and upstairs are beautiful brownstones.  It's all quite romantic in the evening hours, with twinkling lights and the people milling around.

Becco is one such restaurant that Lidia owns.  On this particular night, it was extremely crowded, with a line going out the door and up the three little steps onto the sidewalk.  Luckily, Alex had made reservations for "before theater," as the host said.  Having had little experience dining with the before-theater dinner crowd, I was surprised that restaurants had "before" as a time option instead of 6:00 p.m.

Becco has a typical Italian menu with the addition of an unlimited pasta buffet, or more classily called "Sinfonia di Paste" - va bene!  I had an antipasto (sundried tomato, asparagus, beans, squash, with bacalao and octopus - great palate opener!) with that night's pastas: round ricotta herb ravioli, pappardelle with tomato sauce and basil, and linguine with clams.  Waiters walked around the very crowded dining room, weaving through the tables, with huge pans full of pasta. While each pasta was delicious in its own way, I was constantly nervous that the waiter might splash some tomato sauce on our clothes while doling out each spoon of pasta passing by.  It's by no means a neat dinner service, but definitely unique!  With the antipasti, one scoop of each pasta was just enough to fill me up for the theater performance that was to follow.