Basi Italia – Revisited
Posted by cmh gourmand on January 25, 2008
811 Highland Street
(Victorian Village / Short North)
Basi Italia offers much more than basic Italian cuisine. Nestled in the heart Victorian Village, Basi is a secret spot that you don’t want to share with a mere casual acquaintance. The building Basi is based in began as a carriage house long ago. Over the years it fed the neighborhood as a carry out and a pizza shop. As a restaurant, Basi reflects the spirit, tastes and vision of husband and wife duo John Dornback and Trish Gentile.
The atmosphere at Basi mirrors the experience of dining in a friend’s home.
Instead of feeling cramped or crowded, all of Basi’s elements of ambiance come together to create a comfy and comfortable eating environment. Creative chair placement creates a cozy setting that seats thirty-eight souls; some patrons enter as strangers and leave as friends due to close proximity and an occasional impromptu shared bottle (or two) of vino. More than a few tables are intimately spaced and tightly tucked together. Seating is at a premium, on the weekends if you need to wait – it may be outside. The music is muted, the lights are low and the conversation is often subdued. Most tables offer a play-by-play view of the action in the kitchen as well as the banter back and forth between the servers and the chefs. The staff often sport Basi T-shirts and know many customers by name. A sharp eyed diner can often read the labels on the spices packed on the spice shelf while spying an entrée’s trip from stove top to plate.
The style and presentation of a meal is simple and innovative; relaxed and refined; and casual and elegant, all at the same time. The primo and secundo offerings infuse the standard Italian fare of pastas, pizzas and salads with a few culinary twists and turns plus a no holds barred use of the finest authentic ingredients. Goat cheese, Gorgonzola, fresh herbs and spices combine with imported meats and more to create memorable menus and enjoyable evenings.
Recent examples of meals to remember include: roasted beet carpaccio
(spiced walnuts, goat cheese and shallot vinaigrette), grilled ostrich fillet (butternut squash purée in fig-balsamic reduction), and frutti del mare (black tagliatelle, mixed seafood with saffron).
Have a fine dine at Basi.
A version of this review appeared in C-Bus Magazine – January/February 2008
Insider Tip – Basi is busy during the work week but not so busy that you would have to wait very long for a table – drop in on a Tuesday or Wednesday and you can probably get a spot as you stroll through the door.
A bit of history – Trish Gentile sent me a couple photos of the building that houses Basi – here is a blast from the buildings past, (circa 1947) as a grocery store.