Basil Brick Oven Pizza always felt like a larger restaurant waiting to happen.
This was true when Basil opened last year as an intimate 15-seat restaurant on Astoria Blvd. with a 900-degree, wood-burning brick oven and a comprehensive menu with more than 40 different types of pizza, as well as antipasti, salads, panini and pastas. And it was all the more evident at the party in early May to celebrate the restaurant’s expansion, which more than triples its seating capacity.
When I visited Basil for the first time, I enjoyed exceptional pizza, including the standout capricciosa, with homemade sauce and mozzarella, prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, black olives, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil. Following the meal, chef Daniele Barbos, a native of the Piemonte/Liguria region of Italy, sent a sizable portion of free tiramisu out to everyone in the restaurant for no other reason than to thank us for dining with him that night.
Thanks to chef Barbos’s culinary talent (and some great early coverage from Astoria-based food writer Bradley Hawkes), Basil has grown into a neighborhood favorite, with people lining up outside to fill those 15 seats.
Basil’s newly enlarged dining room incorporates the space next door that was once Twirlz Frozen Yogurt, adding 50 much-needed seats. There is also a beautiful new café space that will serve coffee, espresso-based beverages and gelato, including peanut butter chocolate and the Italian classic stracciatella.
Within the next few months, construction will begin on a two-level patio in back, which will provide another 50 seats and be open year-round.
As I was getting ready to leave the party, I stopped to thank chef Barbos, and he asked me to have a drink with him. Wine, champagne and Italian beers had been flowing freely all night, but he opened up a small wooden liquor cabinet and produced a bottle of grappa, and we toasted to a lovely night.
Basil is that kind of place—a restaurant where you’ll always be warmly welcomed, no matter how big it grows or how long you’ve been away.
Basil Brick Oven Pizza, 28-17 Astoria Blvd., Astoria, Queens, 718-204-1205, basilbrickoven.com
Follow all of Sue Yacka’s food explorations at her blog, Tastoria Queens