Unsuspecting Location + Unique Menu Offer Pleasant Surprise! Basso Cafe – Norwalk, CT

16 Sep

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.

Shared dishes:


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.

Homemade Gnocchi

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.

Berry Napoleon

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!

Final Thoughts

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?

Noms:  3.75

Cost: $$$

Basso Cafe

Address: 124 New Canaan Avenue

Norwalk, CT 06850

Phone:  (203) 354-6566

Site:  Basso Cafe

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BassoCafeRestaurant

Basso Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

20 Responses to “Unsuspecting Location + Unique Menu Offer Pleasant Surprise! Basso Cafe – Norwalk, CT”

  1. Lilly September 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Basso deserves it’s 28/30 Zagat rating. My husband and I have been going to Basso for the past year or so. The food is outstanding and the ambiance is vibrant, classy and cozy all at once. Definitely is a hidden gem…but I’m guessing not for long. Nice review guys.

    By the way, in response to Hanks comments: no pricing on website menu and a refundable deposit for holding large party reservations is not an uncommon practice. I’ve had to give a credit card many times at restaurants while living in NYC. This is done so people will be curteous and cancel large party reservations in a timely manner so the restaurant can then fill that spot. If Hank thinks $25 is a “down payment”, then I would suggest he stick to Black Bear Saloon or Gingerman?

    Always a GREAT time at Basso.


  2. Hank September 17, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    After reading the Omnom review, I decided to access Basso’s website for a look at their menu. Three comments:
    (1) Why no pricing on the menu? Restaurants owe their potential customers the courtesy of what they’re in for financially. I generally will not patronize any such establishment.
    (2) A $25 per person reservation “down payment” for parties of six or more? Where did THAT come from?
    (3) Two diners may only share one BYOB bottle at their meal? What if one likes red and the other prefers white? Huh? Basso apparently doesn’t want its customers to have a good time.


    • Kelly September 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

      I always take a look at Basso Cafe website, since they change their menu seasonally and like to select the wine I am bringing to pair with their food. The price average is $52 per person including BYOB fee and the prices are posted in their hard cover menu and also in their handout menu. I am use to making reservations for large parties and many restaurants have a reservation fee policy to prevent no shows.


      • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro September 18, 2012 at 8:14 am #

        What’s going on Kelly? That was one of the things that really attracted us to their menu…the seasonal menu. :)


    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro September 18, 2012 at 8:10 am #

      Hey Hank. We definitely understand about be wary of restaurants that do not put the price up on their website. It’s hard to say why certain restaurants do that. Is it because they want to lure you in or is it just because it’s easier in case prices need to change? Basso isn’t actually too expensive when you compare it to similar restaurants. Like Kelly said, it was about $50 per person, but we went all out with our choices. :)

      It is pretty common for a restaurant to charge money for reservations. If you go to Basso, you’d probably see why. It’s a pretty small cafe, so a table of 6 or more would be a considerable portion of the restaurant set aside for you. We’re not saying that we’d like to be charged $25, but we can see why they’d do that.

      As for the BYOB problem, bet they’d make an exception for you. :)

      This is a nice place Hank, you should give them a try. Their website is a bit dated in terms of how it looks, but Renato is a very talented chef. :)


  3. Margaret Sapir September 16, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Hi, good morning. See you Farm-To-Chef Menu for this week attached. Best, Margaret



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