I wonder if there is shame in admitting that my exposure to Italian food is nearly nil? I’m no pasta hound, “red sauce” to me just means sriracha, garlic is great but I have unfond memories of not being allowed to leave the table until my mountainous tangle of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio was finished – the horror! Am I even kind of the person to start reviewing Italian food in a public setting (the interwebz!!). Well, ,,,,,
See, I at least know what food is when I taste it, and I still carry a torch for Michele Foglione’s ricotta gnocci. I do understand the ravenous zeal that an exceptional olive oil can cause. I may not crave cheese ever, but I adore it all the same.
Basi Bistro, I suppose, is not a bad place to condition myself to these things. It’s actually quite lovely inside, like a diner made out to be an aquarium – a lilting airy quality and a youthful, laid back clientele (with a youthful laid back service staff to match). And even if the food won’t be transporting anyone to sun-drenched villas anytime soon, well at least it’s reasonably priced and consistently tasty.
A table d’hôte with pizza or pasta as a main runs 19.95$, with fish or meat it’s 29.95$, including an entrée and a dessert. From the entrées we chose the Insalata Italiana (yes, sometimes I am boring and I want to eat salad. It’s true!) and the
Vitello Tonnato – cold roast beef in a tuna sauce (not Vitello, but whatever the Italian word for roast beef is). The salad was slick but refreshing, with a good tang, mostly romaine, enjoyable. The vitello was lovely, a kind of a ladylike way to start a meal, wait, does that make sense? There’s something about cutting dainty leaves of beef from a pale sauced plate that makes me think of white gloves. Okay, but now on topic.
The bread was great! Foccacia, warmsoft bricks topped with excellent tomatoes (san marzanos?) and served with a flavourful oil + pepper combo. Oh, and then mains came.
I was mad happy with mine. The smell was awwwesome. And if it wasn’t like the most tender piece of lobster in the world, I was still picking the sweet pieces from the buttery rosé sauced shells to the last drop. Just enough quality mozzarella to goo it up nicely, and the vegetables alongside were simple but cooked well – snappy juicy asparagus and a surprisingly smooth and herbal potato purée, however much it looked like a kindergarden playdoh project splooged along the side of the plate like that. Hehe.
The Spaghettini Calabrese didn’t fare so well. Pasta dishes can sometimes suffer from the “jumble of noodles + ingredients = not necessarily cohesion” syndrome, and this would be a poster child for that. The sausages could have been browned more, the rapini was a bit bitter, the roasted peppers were good, probably done in house, and the sauce was nonexistent beyond olive oil, salt and pepper. Oh, and the pre-ground parmesan that the parmesan boy dumped sheepishly onto the stuff. (*facepalm*). But yeah, not bad just not great. At least the spaghettini was still structurally al dente. Phew.
Never’s anything lost when there’s dessert to wait for, however. The lemon cake was a standout – surprisingly lemony, extremely moist genoise layered with whipped mascarpone and a generous size, served with little micro-watermelons and a freaking lemon-shaped gummy candy! See, we love candy. That could not be better. !
The hazelnut panna cotta was also well done. Simple, but smooth and very cold, slicked with a layer of dark chocolate sauce and tasting of quality ice cream with a whiff of frangelico. It paired nicely with the (pretty average) espressos, served with a shot glass of hand-whipped cream that was topped with a coffee bean – nice touch.
My heart wasn’t stolen away, nor my face melted off, and maybe red sauce never coursed through my veins, but I had a good time, a really good time at Basi. Maybe there’s hope for me yet. ;)
Dinner for two, plus two glasses of wine and two espressos – 81$ before tip.