If you go for lunch, at high tide, then you may even think that you are dining, al fresco, on the beach somewhere along the Italian Riviera! At low tide, of course, you would know that you were really in Sanur, Bali.
That Basilico is in such a fresh, clean location seems a perfect match for the style of food that it serves. Simple, quality produce, as the Italians have been doing for years.
An Insalata di Cesare seems to fit the mood for healthy lunching. Iceburg lettuce, tossed in a creamy mustard, anchovy and garlic dressing with crunchy herbed croutons. As you are at the seaside, then maybe the Calamari con Verdure in Insalata is more appropiate. A summer salad of mesclun leaves, olives, tomato, onion and cucumber, topped with crumbed calamari and drizzled with olive oil and the juice of limes.
As in almost any Italian restaurant, you can order their version of Minestrone, that thick vegetable and pasta soup. At Basilico, Minestra di Lenticchie [vegetable soup with lentils and crispy Pancetta bacon] and Caciucco alla Livornese [a Tuscan soup that combines fish pieces with shellfish] are interesting alternatives.
Risotto con Fritti de Mare is a saffron-scented risotto, laced with mussels, calamari, baby clams and prawns. A wide variety of pastas are available, but a couple of them are rather special. The Penne al Quattro Formaggi is a simple penne tube pasta that has been tossed in a creamy sauce made by mixing four different cheeses. It has a pleasant tang to it, that seems to suit the salty air.
The Orechiette con Gorgonzola Pistaccio e Cognac is ear-shaped pasta in a sauce of that unique gorgonzola cheese with pistachio and cognac added. Fettuccine alla Crema di Avocato con Gamberi e Caviale is a very long name for simple fettuccine, with shrimps and caviar, in an unusual avocado sauce.
Linguine al Salmone is linguine pasta with shards of marinated salmon liberally added, together with a dousing of olive oil and lemon juice. There are a number of traditional Spaghetti offerings, but the two that I enjoyed most both had seafood added. Spaghetti Aragosta e Crema di Peperoni had chunks of lobster meat added, then combined with a very creamy sauce made from bell peppers. Whilst the Spaghetti alla Ronaldo was combined with sun-dried tomatoes, tiger prawn meat, deep-fried capers and garlic.
The Pizzas are Italian style, but with more than the usual amount of toppings. Pizza Quattro Stagioni has ham, salami, mussels, anchovies and artichokes added to the usual tomato and mozzarella cheese base. Pizza Balinese adds smoked chicken to pineapple, olives and red chillies. Now that is really different, and the resultant taste is most agreeable. The Pizza Basilico has grilled prawns, squids, parsley and garlic.
If, after all that has gone before, you still feel like ordering a main course, then read on! I love lamb, and the Agnello alla Griglia produces the thick juicy, not overcooked, lamb chops that I prefer. Glazed with rosemary and garlic, it is served on a potpourri of basil and vegetables.
Italian mains often highlight veal and Basilico is no exception. The Vitello alla Campagnola is pan-fried veal escalopes, oven-baked and served on a mixture of spinach and mozzarella cheese. They come with an unusual shitake mushroom risotto, and a wonderful, delicate, marsala sauce.
Pollo alla Cacciatora is a good old-fashioned stew, or casserole, Italian-style! Chunks of chicken, slowly braised with a combination of tomatoes, olives, and anchovies. It is served with a creamy polenta and parmesan cheese.
Gamberoni alla Griglia are grilled river prawns in a herb and garlic butter, and are accompanied by a risotto. Pesce al Forno is a whole baby snapper that has been baked, and served with zucchini and eggplant in a white wine sauce. The Trancio di Salmone is a pan-fried fillet of salmon, served on Kipfler potatoes, with a bell pepper and eggplant Caponata and a butter sauce.
Vegetarians are well catered for at Basilico with a variety of dishes. The usual salad, here an Insalata Basilico, consists of crisp lettuce, roasted beetroot with onion in a sour cream dressing, sprinkled with toasted pinenuts. Zuppa di Zucca is a thick, tasty, pumpkin soup that is served with garlic bread. Spaghetti with Rocket, is pasta in olive oil, tossed with crisp rocket leaves, tomato cubes and fresh herbs.
The pick of the desserts, for me, is the Prugne con Gelato. Armagnac marinated prunes, served with cinnamon ice cream, and sprinkled with shaved almonds. An Italian Crème Brulee is very different from the norm. It is served in a young coconut with a marquisa sauce. Cocco Sanur, is coconut ice cream topped with a mocca sauce and covered with toasted coconut flakes.
A very well-balanced wine list, and quite reasonably priced for a hotel restaurant, is a pleasant surprise, as is the friendly but professional service. It all combines to make this visit to the beach, memorable.