5. Basi Italia

Story by Shelley Mann + Photos by Will Shilling

Eat a meal at this tiny gem hidden deep in Victorian Village and you come away feeling like part of the family.

For one thing, the Basi space is actually an old house, so it really does feel like you're eating dinner at the home of some old friends. Namely, husband-and-wife owners Johnny Dornback and Trish Gentile. And if you sit inside, you'll be close enough to your fellow diners that you'll quickly become old friends.

But it's more than that. It's plates of food that feel like they came from a home kitchen rather than a gourmet restaurant--albeit a home kitchen with an outstanding cook. It's a waitstaff filled with people who have obviously become part of the extended Basi family--they're having fun even as they hustle and bustle and do what it takes to keep a restaurant running efficiently.

Johnny is the chef behind Basi's Italian-inspired menu. It changes seasonally but is typically heavy on unfussy pastas and flavorful seafood. Trish is in charge of the wine--and she has a big hand in planning the menu, too.

The Basi menu is short and sweet. On the Primo side, seasonal salads join favorite appetizers like the Zucchini Pronto--a present of sorts featuring a pile of roasted zucchini and toasted almonds wrapped in thin sheets of pecorino--and the magical Parmesan Creme Brulee, a cheese custard with a crispy, caramelized crust.

The main courses change up more frequently, plus there are always tantalizing specials detailed on chalkboard menus.

This summer's offerings included a delightful Veal Ravioli entree, with velvety ground veal tucked inside thick pockets of pasta that resembled mini pope hats. They sat upright with some charred cherry tomatoes and wilted arugula in a pool of thick, fragrant parmesan broth.

What a welcome and unexpected treat in a world of red-sauced, rubbery-noodled Italian food.

Basi Italia 811 Highland St., Victorian Village 614-294-7383 basi-italia.com Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

The Crave 10 1. Rigsby's 2. G. Michael's 3. Kihachi 4. Dragonfly 5. Basi Italia 6. Sage 7. Refectory 8. M 9. Alana's 10. Worthington Inn