Tel: +31 20 620 422 2222
Address: 8 Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, Amsterdam 1017 DE
Cuisine Type: Italian
External Links Pasta e Basta
Pasta e Basta features in all the guide books to Amsterdam, and if you want to eat here you always need to book.
Located a short walk from the Rijksmuseum within the main canal belt and alongside the galleries and artistic area of the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, Pasta e Basta’s central location alone could be enough to attract visitors but this restaurant has its own unique selling point: singing waiters!
That may sound more than a little cheesy and bring up images of karaoke or elderly men with violins warbling through the menu, but this is not the style or intention of Pasta e Basta. The staff really can sing, and serenade the entire restaurant at regular intervals throughout the meal. At one point you may hear The Carpenters, followed shortly after by an operatic aria, something traditionally Dutch or a rendition of Bryan Adams. All the staff are recruited both for their singing talents and ability to serve the food and wait tables, and each person on duty on the day you dine will display their vocal talents at least once during your evening. They also wander from one part of the dining area to another, paying individual attention to each table.
The whole dining experience has a musical theme, with menus placed in genuinely old and totally individual music books. Pasta & Basta offers both an a la carte menu and group menus. The standard a la carte menu costs €34 for an unlimited antipasta buffet and a main course pasta including such options as lasagne with gorgonzola, spinach and prosciotto or tortello filled with pumpkin and sage butter served with roasted pumpkin, balsamic and hazelnuts. They also offer a shared group menu (€44.50 or €49.50, depending on number of diners) which also includes limoncello and desserts.
We visited during Amsterdam Restaurant Week meaning a three course meal cost €25 each plus drinks, but with a slightly more limited choice of main courses. The standard starter is the antipasta buffet, a choice of dishes presented in a chilled grand piano. This concept is great, but unfortunately in practice brings me to my only criticism. Pasta e Basta is atmospheric, meaning dimmed lights, and the area around the piano is dark. What looked like artichoke hearts turned out to be celery, while small chunks of meat in a mushroom dish were actually capers. It was almost impossible to tell what you were choosing, and because the waiting staff are all serving main courses and the piano is being played while you make your choice, there is no opportunity to ask. The antipasta was however tasty, and the olive bread especially good.
There was a reasonable selection for main courses including gnocchi, beef stew and tagliatelle with langoustines. There is also a dish of the day, which on this occasion was black tagliatelle served with prawns and what the waiting staff translated as ‘ink-fish’ but we decided was probably monkfish. There were two vegetarian options, including half moons of pasta filled with mozzarella and tomato served in a tomato sauce with fresh green asparagus, which was delicious. My fellow diners all enjoyed their choices with special praise for the orechiette pasta with scallops. The set dessert was a satisfying home-made tiramisu.
Wine at Pasta e Basta is mainly Italian and served by either the bottle or the glass.
Our €25 each three course meal came in at €34 per person including a perfectly drinkable bottle of house white shared between five people, plus two bottles of water. The atmosphere was fun and the waiters attentive Ð especially during the bouts of singing. Service was friendly and flexible, we were asked between each course whether we were ready for the next or would prefer to wait. This being Amsterdam, we were not rushed to leave after we finished our meal and they were happy for us to split the bill between cash and bank-cards.
Pasta e Basta is not a place you would choose to eat everyday, but a good venue to pick if you want the experience of somewhere different and – at least within Amsterdam – quite unique.