Renowned for providing customers with not only the taste-bud tempting aromas of its delicious dishes but also a relaxing atmosphere surrounded by fine art, Basilico Restaurant will be embarking on a new phase in its business by offering lovers of food, art, and culture, weekend breaks in Oranmore or longer painting holidays to Italy.
The ‘Travel to Italy with Basilico’ and weekend breaks at the hotel are just some of the changes that are being made as part of the five year celebrations at Basilico which is located at Main Street, Oranmore, and adjoins the Coach House Hotel and the House Bar. All three sections of the business have undergone redecoration and benefited from a number of new additions to the already high quality services being offered.
Authentically Italian is what Basilico is all about
Creating dishes and an atmosphere that is modern as well as being authentically Italian is what Basilico is all about. Opened on February 12, 2008, and officially launched on March 1 of that same year, there was very much a team effort involved in its creation and the business has continued to give a very ‘family-run’ vibe, which has proven to be the special ingredient. The overall restaurant and general manager is Fabiano Mulas who, along with his business partner and head chef Paolo Sabatini, gained a reputation in the Galway restaurant industry before setting up on their own. With the help of Fabiano’s brother-in-law Niall Woodlock (bar and assistant general manager ), and his wife Valerie, the business got off to a flying start as people in Oranmore, and the surrounding areas, were delighted when the new business came to town.
Reflecting on those early days, Paolo described how ensuring the restaurant was authentically Italian was very important, to the point where his own father crossed over from Italy in an old Fiat 500 jammed full with things like salami, plates, and crockery. “People were filming him on the freeway because they couldn’t believe it. It took him five days non-stop to get here,” said Paolo, who built up seven years experience in Italy before working for one of the top 10 restaurants in the US and coming back to Ireland. Basilico’s famous Fiat 500 mascot is currently undergoing its own make-over for the five year celebrations and will be back, repainted and looking brand new, in its usual spot soon.
Basilico becomes a member of prestigious Euro-Toques
It was this continued dedication to authenticity as well as Basilico’s constant efforts to use only the best available ingredients and produce from local suppliers that caught the attention of Euro-Toques, an industry group representing chefs and restaurants that promote heritage cooking and use produce that is at least 90 per cent from local suppliers.
“This is because we use local products and are very selective. Euro-Toques are very select, you have to be nominated by one member and then an investigation follows. They look at the philosophy of responsibility, menu, standards, it is not easy to be part of it. The membership includes all the best chefs,” said Paolo, who said that confirmation was only given to Basilico recently, making it one of only three Italian restaurants in Ireland to be part of Euro-Toques chefs. Basilico is no stranger to accolades having already received a Bridgestone award. It is also part of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, the Italian Federation of Chefs, and has been dubbed by well-known food critic Paulo Tulio as the ‘best Italian in the west’.
Using produce from local suppliers and fostering good relations with local businesses is something that Basilico has always placed much importance on. Paolo explains: “We’ve really made an effort to keep to local suppliers, use free range produce, while retaining maxium quality. We have a good philosophy here. Our salad produce is all organic from Claregalway, our meat from Athenry, everything is Irish except our pasta dishes which is more of a mixture of Irish and Italian culture.” Supporting suppliers from other parts of the country is also part of Basilico’s philosophy, with two new suppliers coming on board this year - Pigs On The Green from Tullamore which specialises in free range pork providing produce such as homemade sausages and traditional cured ham, and Toonsbridge in County Cork which is unique in Ireland in that it produces its own fresh buffalo mozzarella.
Basilico holidays for lovers of Italian food, culture, and painting
The atmosphere of the restaurant as well as the cuisine combines a mix of cultures as inspiration, that of Paolo’s native city of Rome and Fabiano’s home town of Sardinia. The modern furniture is complemented by the art work adorning the walls featuring a variety of Italian scenery and all created by Fabiano who, as well as being an accomplished restaurateur, has a degree in fine art. Combined with the high quality dishes that are prepared using the best ingredients available - whether that be fresh seafood, high standard beef, and organic vegetables sourced locally or other authentic produce sourced all the way from Italy - it is little wonder that the restaurant has a reputation for having the best Italian cuisine outside of Italy.
“We’re always pushing the quality of the food,” says Fabiano, who added that this year will see all the passions of Basilico - food, art, wine, and culture - joining together to provide customers with a wonderful opportunity to avail of a relaxing weekend painting break in May or join a ‘Travel to Italy with Basilico’ holiday in September. Fabiano explains: “Basilico is taking its love of art, food, wine, and culture to a whole new level. People can stay in the hotel on a Saturday and Sunday and be brought out to locations around Oranmore to paint for four hours and benefit from a demonstration from a local working artist. They can then come back, relax, and enjoy a dinner. For September, we are looking at offering a more extended painting, food, and wine holiday in Italy. It will be a five to six days holiday with a choice of staying in Rome, Calabria, or Sardinia. Participants will be able to see how the harvest works. They can help cut the grapes, see how the wine is made, and then have a celebration after. If they don’t want to paint that’s fine, they can just relax.”
Relax with a glass of wine and enjoy acoustic sessions at the House Bar
A lot of investment has also been made in redecorating the House Bar and transforming it into a rustic wine bar. While its popular cocktail menu continues the House Bar has also expanded its services in other areas. Niall explains: “We’re relaunching the bar and will be offering wines by the glass now. We’ve identified that customers are more discerning about what drinks they have with their meals, they don’t want to be just given two choices of reds and whites, they want to choose from a broad choice, to be informed by staff who are experienced enough to recommend a wine. We get a lot of female customers who like the option of wine by the glass and for the men we also have a selection of international beers. People are more discerning, they want more than just the typical house beers. It reflects the business very well.
“Friday evenings we cater for the post-work market by providing a bottle of wine and a cheese platter for €19.95, which comes with Basilico’s own fresh bread and all the trimmings. On Tuesday nights there is the open acoustic session from 9.30pm which has grown in popularity and is open to everyone, with performers getting one free drink.”
While customers can avail of a wonderful dining experience in the restaurant the same attention to quality is paid to the dishes that are served in the bar as part of the bistro side of the business. Customers can choose from breakfast, lunch, and dinner options in the bar, as well as daily deals on pizza, pasta, and other dishes. There are many offers available with the 16 bedroom hotel, which has also been redecorated. These include mid-week packages inclusive of meals as well as deals on group packages. Although the restaurant is a major draw, many customers stay in the hotel for their love of golfing as there are three golf courses within a five mile radius of the hotel, making it ideal.
Customers can avail of Basilico’s new loyalty card scheme so that points collected can be redeemed against rewards such as a Basilico jacket or apron, a free dinner or weekend break.
For more information regarding the weekend painting breaks in May or the ‘Travel to Italy with Basilico’ holidays phone 091-483693, leave your details, and Fabiano will get back to you. For all other information and to make a reservation phone 091-483693, email [email protected], or log onto www.basilicorestaurant.ie