2016 Best Restaurants: #8 Basi Italia
Half a mile west of the Short North, Basi sits in Victorian Village like a refuge, seemingly untouched by the convulsions of change along High Street. When husband-and-wife team John Dornback and Trish Gentile opened this green hole-in-the wall in 2003, the idea was to cook and serve Italian and Mediterranean food simply, among friends. That concept has had impressive staying power. Basi's food remains familiar, fresh and market-driven, the service is unfailingly warm and the lively (but not loud) patio borders on iconic in this town.
After stepping away from the restaurant last year and again this summer because of health issues, chef Dornback is now positively beaming. He's proud that his tight-knit "crack tactical team" of 16 employees has kept Basi relevant in a time of notable change and says they've learned to work "leaner, meaner and faster." Dornback is back in the kitchen (minus the night shifts) and his imprint is still all over the menu.
We love the house-made sangria served in tiny bottles to go along with our beets. Whether in carpaccio or diced form, they are almost always a winner. Basi's ample serving of mussels (bathed in a pancetta and tomato brodo) is outstanding, and so is the value. Rigatoni Salumeria and Zuccini Pronto still make regular appearances on the menu-otherwise the regulars might riot. And a lot of ambitious home chefs probably buy blowtorches each year after eating the Parmesan brulee. Don't. Just walk over to Basi, where a dinner party is bound to break out.
811 Highland St., Victorian Village, 614-294-7383
Memorable dishes: Pan Roasted Mussels, Rigatoni Salumeria