Restaurant Review: Basi Italia
Basi Italia has been around for long enough to be more than a flash in a pan. The restaurant will mark a whole decade of existence this October. Back in 2003, it opened to accolades in possibly the weirdest location in the entire universe. While Basi Italia is a short walk from Goodale Park, it’s also down an odd alley housed in something that looks like a wacky garage.
The exterior steps lead up to a little elevated door that opens to a tiny space that’s laid out wih brutal efficiency. There’s no waste, just economical lines of neatly arranged tables covered with white clothes and sheets of paper.
Compared to Olive Garden, Basi’s menu is probably small. Still, it’s large enough to provide a diverse selection of edibles.
For an appetizer, the Zucchini Pronto ($8) has earned lots of local raves. Its portion-size is generous enough that it could even work as a meal for someone who freaks out over (gluten-filled) pasta. The zucchini takes on the pasta role, as it’s chopped into noodle-sized matchsticks. Then, it’s sauteed and topped with toasted almonds and a wispy sheet of pecorino cheese. It’s a great vehicle for the butter in which it’s cooked, and butter is always a good thing.
Since Basi seems to do everything so well, that was a good reason to branch out into unfamiliar territory with some Roasted Endive ($8). The bulbs of roasted endive turn out to be an acquired taste, as their innards take on a yam-like sweetness with the cooking… yam people might love it, but our table fought instead over the tallegio cheese and hazel nut topping, which was sublime.
There was a pasta dish on Basi’s menu when the restaurant first opened that made a big impression: it teamed raisins and sausage. The combo was transformative. Seriously, “the place that put raisins in its red sauce” was the topic of lovey conversations for weeks.
And a version of that offering is still on the menu… in spite of the fact that the idea never really caught on in the local restaurant scene. It’s not easy to find a place in Columbus that puts raisins in its meat sauce. At Basi, it’s called Rigatoni Salumeria ($17). The raisins are the white ones, and they soak up the sauce’s flavor and bob around the plate like little water balloons. There’s just a few of them, though. Really , the main act is a savory sausage, tomatoes and lots of cruchy pine nuts. Those who are not obsessed might not even notice the raisins.
And if raisin rigatoni is just too scary to order, by all means have som Pan Roasted Ohio Chicken ($21) –it’s chickeny, natural-tasting chicken with comforting corn pudding and greens. Still good, but without the raisins.
You can find Basi Italia at 811 Highland Street. It’s open from 5pm until 10pm Tuesdays through Thursdays -and it’s open until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations are highly recommended. You can call 294-7383 or make them online through their website.
More information can be found online at www.basi-italia.com.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.