Disappointed by our meal the prior weekend at Sails in Rowayton, we felt like we needed redemption but were afraid to branch off somewhere new if it wasn’t going to be a sure bet. Being the devoted food bloggers we are, we went for it and had a hunch after some research that Basso Cafe would be that sure bet we were looking for. For one, we had a strong recommendation from a Twitter friend. Two, when we checked out the menu, it looked awesome. And lastly, when we checked out their Zagat score we found a crazy amazing 28/30. That’s pretty impressive! Even if the restaurant itself is in the most unsuspecting location ever: New Canaan Avenue in the Silvermine neighborhood of Norwalk.
After we made our online reservations, we got a call from Basso reminding us that they were BYOB and to come prepared. We thought that was very nice of them to do! Starting off, Chef Renato Donzelli created the Basso Cafe menu based off his life experience, so it’s what he knows best. He was born in Venezuela and was raised in Italy which lead him to create a menu that has some Latino flare and Mediterranean flavor. A win-win in our book!
We decided to go with lots of apps and share an entree so we could get lots of tastes. That’s how we roll, ya know?
Kristien’s dish: Dates and formaggio capra
If Danny hasn’t had the cheese before and deemed it as “safe” in his book, then he wants no part of it. I don’t mind, just more cheese for me! This dish can be summed up as heavenly. Delicious bites of Medjool dates stuffed with formaggio capra and wrapped in applewood smoked bacon. While the dates and cheese melt so easily in your mouth, the bacon adds crispiness and smokiness to the dish that can’t be missed. Best dates I’ve had in CT for sure..well, except for the ones that I went on with Danny!
Dan’s dish: Bacon Wrapped Mozzarella
Take some nice mooz, then wrap it in bacon. Make that piggy nice and crisp and let the cheese melt and get all gooey. Yeah, that’s this dish, a special on their seasonal menu. While little bites of bacon and mooz were good enough by themselves, the apricot sauce on the side added a nice tartness that cut through the smokiness and richness of the dish.
Remembering Chef Donzelli’s Venezualan background, we thought these had to be good! The dish featured two different small arepas: chicken salad, packed with flavor, and light on the mayo and black bean, also full of flavor and covered with cheese. The corn cake itself was very crispy, but moist.
Although the gnocchi was a bit heavier than we normally like, it was a good dish overall. With your first bite you get a warm and earthy smack from a truffle oil that has been aged for 36 months. Add in mushrooms to amp up the flavor paired with the gnocchi and you’ve got a funghi lover’s dream.
Lobster Risotto with Saffron
While the rice in the risotto was a tad bit undercooked (oh risotto, why are you so elusive?), the flavor was great and had a nice kick of saffron in the finishing taste. The Maine lobster in the dish, on the other hand, was cooked perfectly. Oh, and they didn’t just give you one or two tiny chunks. No, we were given nice big chunks of lobster that left us satisfied.
Imagine layered lemon zest tuiles with lemon curd and fresh raspberries and blackberries inside. The thin cookies were crispy, yet light at the same time, while the lemon card was tart, creamy, refreshing, and also light. Such a perfect dessert!
Basso Cafe was exactly what Zagat and our Twitter recommendation led us to believe it was. Which was ironically surprising to us consider it’s in such a random location and features a tough to pull off Latin & Mediterranean menu. Everything just worked well together and the service was solid. Basso’s been around a while (they just celebrated their 5th anniversary) and received a lot of recognition, yet so many we know have never heard of it. We’d venture to say it’s one of the best unknown gems in our area, so get yo’self on down there and make it a scene…just not when we want reservations, ok?
Address: 124 New Canaan Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06850
Phone: (203) 354-6566
Site: Basso Cafe