Some restaurants are delightful for particular dishes and some restaurants are delightful for the staff.
I look forward to rolling by and reading from my car window the daily specials posted in the window of Il Basilico. Based on what I read I decide whether to go that night as I continue on rounds of suburban errands.
Two nights ago one special was Chilean sea bass with a side of spaghetti in garlic and oil. That was enough to bring me back and I asked our waiter which of the specials he recommended that night. He said that the sea bass had arrived that afternoon and recommended it. My wife earlier had expressed the desire to not get two entrees since we thought that might be too filling and we prefer not to age leftovers in our refrigerator. While searching for a second dish the waiter suggested a dish not on the menu but one that we had seen on the menu previously.
He said the paccheri Gragnano pasta with zucchinni and shrimp is very good and he would ask the chef if he would make it. The waiter, Lucca, had previously served us dishes featuring paccheri Gragnano pasta which is a specialty of Naples. Lucca says the paccheri Gragnano served at Il Basilico is made with a special flour which makes it more expensive than regular pasta. The flour gives paccheri special qualities including absorbing sauces (especially seafood sauces).
I do not know if the paccheri Gragnano is available locally although I see that Eataly advertizes other Gragnan pastas.
The chef said he could make the dish and after a slight delay, which Lucca explained was due to the chef's effort to make the paccheri al dente, we were served. The sea bass filet (six ounce?) was cooked perfectly and served on a large Romaine lettuce leaf with a wedge of lemon. A side of spaghetti was flavored with garlic and olive oil.
The paccheri dish consisted of a sauce of diced fresh tomato and onion with a little parsley. The onion bits were cooked perfectly translucent and not browned providing a pleasant sweetness without being overly sweet. The sauce combined with butter, olive oil, and bits of shelled deveined shrimp that had been grilled before the shrimp were added to the sauce. A single large shrimp with half the shell on topped the dish. The bits of shrimp and sauce partially filled the large tubes of pasta. Lucca pointed out that the paccheri Gragnano absorbs the sauce at different rates due to the quality of the flour used to make this pasta.
Previously I enjoyed Il Basilico's gnocchi Christina which is gnocchi served with a pesto/ pistaccio sauce and flavored with bacon.
It is fun to check out the menu in the window that changes daily for at least 3 entrees and 2 appetizers. I have also enjoyed their cream of asparagus soup in the spring.
Il Basilico has strong suits in staff and for particular dishes.
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