Becco Restaurant and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

On 46th St. between Eighth and Ninth, Becco looks like just another Theatre Row restaurant until you try to get a reservation and find it booked through to matinee time. We arrived at noon in order to find seats at the bar and ordered a bottle of wine from a long list of $25 bottles. Ah, is cheap wine the key to Becco's success? The Italian menu offered a prix fixe at under $20 (is this Restaurant Week?) and a 3-pasta combination, when ordered with another course for only $9. "For instance, order a salad and you can get the pasta combo," our waiter helpfully suggested.

Three waiters appear, each carrying a silver platter of pasta of a different shape and sauce. Later, seconds were offered, and we filled our plates again, only to ask for our leftovers to be wrapped up. We had to bring something home for our husbands' dinner, especially after we'd spent the entire afternoon drinking wine and sitting in a exquisite theatre, watching a classic American play, while they were hard at work at the office.

The courses are generous at Becco and flavored in a way that fresh sage and basil notes are there, but subtle. If there is any complaint to be made about this fine fare, served with a nibble of white bean paste and high quality bread, is that the chef has too light a hand with salt. Looking around at the packed restaurant full of theatre goers, many with white hair, perhaps it's not the cheap wine but a preference is for healthy, low-salt Italian fare that packs them in.

The small, pretty Booth theatre played host to the Steppenwolf's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," a play that has been regularly updated by Edward Albee, including a cell phone and words that never passed Elizabeth Taylor's lips, even when she played the reckless drunk, Martha. Amy Morton's Martha is just as strong but less of a lush. Tracy Letts, without Burton's accent, is a more sinister George, and a more comic one too. Carrie Coon gives a fresh delivery to the character of Honey. We are so impressed by Steppenwolf's not creating star vehicles and focusing on the story.

We reflected during the two intermissions that it would be difficult to perform this play twice a day (which they do on Saturday only). The schedule does not have both matinee and evening performance on Wednesday, allowing the actors to cool down, practice yoga, and be peaceful between harrowing performances.