One of the first places I ever ate in Tel Aviv is a tiny pasta place at the entrance to Shuk Ha’Carmel (Carmel Market) called Pasta Basta. My fiance (then boyfriend) took me to eat lunch there when I came to visit him in Israel before taking me on a tour around the shuk. The restaurant started in Jerusalem before opening branches in Tel Aviv, Rehovot, and Beer-Sheva. They now have two locations in Tel Aviv (the other is in the North part of the city), and while I’ve tried and like both of them, the one at the shuk is my favorite.
When you enter Pasta Basta, you grab a menu which gives you the options for choosing a type of pasta, a sauce, and toppings, the combination of which determines the price of your dish. The prices are very reasonable, especially with the portion sizes, with our meal costing about $12 USD per person. Not yet familiar with kosher protocol the first time I ate there, I was confused as to why there were no meat options on the menu, but if you’re not kosher, don’t let that turn you off. The restaurant more than makes up for a lack of meat with an abundance of flavor.
After you place your order at the counter, you need to fight to find a seat that you like and wait for them to bring your pasta to you. The doors are always open to the outside patios which make up most of the seating, so the vibrant sights and sounds of the shuk are all around you combined with the mouthwatering smell of cooking pasta. Trying to find somewhere to sit can be a little hectic, but we’ve always found a table in the end, and the location offers some great people watching.
Today I ordered the whole grain fusili with traditional pesto and goat cheese and my fiance ordered the radiatore with red pesto (sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil) with olives. While we were pretty traditional, the menu also offers some more unique options like pink “ballerina” noodles, beetroot sauce, and smoked salmon.
I’m glad I got these pictures quick, because the pasta didn’t last long. If you find yourself in Shuk Ha’Carmel and your shopping works up an appetite, pop into Basta Pasta and enjoy a personalized dish!