Basta Pizzeria Ristorante is a recent new venture by the owners of the Atlas World Grill in downtown Iowa City. Open now for just over six months Basta is well on its way to joining the Atlas as a regular fixture in the Iowa City restaurant scene. However, Basta is a significantly more ambitious restaurant than Atlas. I’ve enjoyed Atlas many times in the past and have always been impressed with its focus on good service and how the cooks make the very best of a small menu. Perhaps it is that focus on making sure that the product is perfect that has formed the basis for Basta.
Basta is kind of hard to put into a particular niche. The decor high-end. A lot of money was spent outfitting Basta as a top-rung restaurant. There are two levels, a very large and super-classy bar, and a lot of nice touches that raise this restaurant a notch higher than its competition in Iowa City. The feel is expansive and expensive. But the menu is definitely not overly expensive. Basta offers four pasta dishes ($12-$16), four plates (chicken, pork, scallops, and steak ($18-$22) and four salads ($10-$13). A number of appetizers are offered as well as four scrumptious desserts (tiramisu, nutella panna cotta, gelato and chocolate budino). The place could support a white tablecloth approach, but it does not. The owners are shooting for bigger crowds and in Iowa City that requires a slightly more informal approach. It is a winning combination for me as I’m not always decked out for a high-end white tablecloth restaurant when I’m in Iowa City.
The main effort goes into the Pizza. One corner of the large dining area is devoted to a massive round steel pizza oven. We did not sample the pizza, so I can’t comment, but I am eager to give it a go on my next visit. With an oven like that I have to believe that some great pizza can be made.
Instead of pizza, our party ordered pasta and salads. I ordered the Grilled Chicken Alfredo ($16.00) and found it to be very well made. The chicken was tender and the cherry tomatoes popped with flavor. I also took some bites of the Butternut Squash Ravioli and I thought that this method of preparation was very nice. Although the meals are just a tad on the small side (about half that of the typical Centro pasta dish), they were reasonably priced and very tasty.
The entree sizes also had the benefit of leaving room for dessert, and what great little dishes they proved to be. My favorite was the Nutella Panna Cotta. I’ve never seen that particular dish offered anywhere. The Tiramisu was also reported to be very tasty, as was the Budino, a flourless chocolate cake. The only thing that we did not try was the Gelato.
I highly recommend Basta, especially if you want a marriage of good Italian food, a nice ambiance and just a little bit of informality.
Basta Pizzaria Ristorante
Open Monday – Sunday
11:00 a.m – 10:00 p.m.
121 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52240