Basilico's Quality Steels You Away!

The Olympian
Sitting in Basilico Ristorante Italiano, I forgot that I was in Olympia or even in America. And everything about this cozily sophisticated restaurant reflects a different sensibility: the authentic Northern Italian menu, the pacing of the meal and the warmth of the service.

The atmosphere manages to be both upscale and intimate, with creamy walls, a lot of dark wood and beautifully framed art. It’s refreshingly subtle.


Rated: 4.5 forks



I felt immediately at home at Basilico,

and I’m not alone. I dined with friends who’ve eaten their way through most of the menu in the three months the restaurant has been open, and they tell me it’s packed most evenings.

The menu, though, was a bit exotic. It’s not just that the dishes are named in Italian. It’s that it seems to be set up with the expectation that you’ll eat an appetizer, a pasta and an entree. (Let’s not even mention dessert yet.) But they’re flexible, and you can do what you want. And although items are a la carte, they do throw in the bread — not a given at upscale places in South Sound.

My friends and I shared one appetizer and three of the restaurant’s fresh pastas and were amply satisfied. The appetizer was simply meat and cheese — the way Lindt chocolate is simply a candy bar. The generous starter had two kinds of proscuitto, coppa, salami, fontina, gorgonzola and pecorino Toscano.

All three pastas were light yet hearty, with generous amounts of meat and fish, subtle sauces and lovely textures.

Pappardelle al cinghiale — wide egg noodles with wild boar, an infusion of mixed herbs and delicate tomato sauce — was as subtle and well-balanced as it sounds, although fellow foodie and dinner companion Rich D’Amato said it was rather on the dry side compared with other times he’d eaten it. A special of ravioli with chunks of duck had a similar subtlety, and I liked it even better.

The paglia e fieno alla camogli — hay and straw pasta with mussels, prawns, calamari and salmon — earned the biggest raves from D’Amato, who hails from Liguria, the same region as co-owner Arlindo Campello. D’Amato later e-mailed me a paean to the pasta: “The sauce is infused with a rich seafood reduction, bringing a briny seafood flavor that permeates the angel hair.”

Among the entrees, the filet mignon, lamb chops and lunchtime salmon are earning particularly high praise.

Molly Gilmore-Baldwin is a freelance writer. The reviewer makes every effort to remain anonymous. Meals are paid for by The Olympian.