Spellbound over Basta Mangiare
As this venue has evolved over the first four years of its existence, I’ve come to appreciate the opportunities to expand into features about pleasant parts of our lives outside the world of wine, beer and spirits. As I’ve aged, food and fine dining have become true passions and while Carol and I love to cook together here at home, a good restaurant experience is always appreciated and never taken for granted.
We don’t do restaurant reviews, per se, on our website but if you’ve read other entries in Kindred Spirits, you’ll know that we find a way to applaud a positive dining adventure through the wine we had with the meal. Cheating a bit, perhaps, but hey, it’s our website, right!
I’ve found it difficult to have this platform from which to pontificate about pleasant occurrences in our lives and not use it to give kudos to those who provide them. Carol and I had such an experience at the Italian restaurant, Basta Mangiare in Peoria Heights recently and because we’ve always had great food and great service there, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts with you about that eatery.
First off, when I say we’ve “always had great food and great service,” please understand that we’ve patronized this restaurant in all three of its incarnations for a long time now. Way back in 1997, Basta Mangiare was located off Pioneer Parkway and it was our go-to place til we left for England in 2001. After returning, we discovered that they had moved to the other end of the same strip mall but the food, service and wine choices had remained the same and once again, Basta’s was a frequent spot for our occasional dining-out nights. The current Peoria Heights location is my favorite, not only because it’s fairly close to our house but the atmosphere and layout are perfect...private nooks along with larger party options and a great, authentic architectural feel with exposed brick peeking through weathered plaster walls. The place has an old world aura with spotless, comfortable accommodations and offers what I consider to be a perfect menu blend of unpretentious but exquisite pasta choices along with ambrosial and nuanced lighter options. We must have had over fifty meals at Basta’s various locations these past 15 years and I can honestly tell you that lunch or dinner, they’ve all been simply wonderful. And Carol will tell you, I’m not a pushover. We pride ourselves on our Italian cooking and oftentimes we can be disappointed out in the world but each and every sample in this study has been exemplary. I believe that is a very difficult thing to accomplish for a restaurant and I give to Basta Mangiare in Peoria Heights, my highest regard. Very well done!
Just a word or two about the wine we had on our most recent visit.This really nice Petite Syrah was a great match with our entrées, Chicken Parmesan for Carol and the incredible Bastacolli for me. By the way, if you finish the Bastacolli they’ll give you a t-shirt applauding the feat. You might want to have a dolly handy to get you out to your car if you do polish it off because it’s really way beyond large. I consider myself a pretty big eater and it makes three meals for me. Of course roughly translated, Basta Mangiare means “plenty to eat” so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. And by the way, the Italian sausage they use is the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s fennel-centric and perfect in this dish or any dish. I wish we could find it for use here at home.
And finally I’d like to address the service staff that we’ve experienced over the years. I’m not certain how owners Mike and Shannon Bonn have managed this, but we have never had a server at this restaurant that wasn’t friendly, knowledgeable, deft with the corkscrew and time-conscious. We’ve never felt rushed... we’ve never felt ignored...we’ve always had great service at Basta’s. I find this to be even more remarkable than the consistently high quality food. And again, this is based on a fairly large statistical sample over a period of 15 years at both lunch and dinner visits. As it turns out, I’m very glad we chose this wine for this, our most recent meal at Basta’s. I guess it’s fair to say that I’m Spellbound over Basta Mangiare.
If you’d like to visit their website, click here.