This well-established Italian eatery has plenty to offer once the sun goes down. Photos by Jonny Edbrooke.

A long-time favourite of the business lunch crowd, Basillico Italian restaurant at the Intercontinental is also worth consideration of an evening.

The restaurant is obviously close to the heart of executive chef Rolando Manesco, who has recently given the menu some fine tuning. While there are the inevitable concessions to cater to the in-house clientele, most of the fare on offer sticks to traditional Italian favourites.

It is not always easy to make a restaurant essentially in the lobby of a building feel like it has an independent character. Basillico manages it well with judicious use of stone and wood throughout the interior, and with red and white checked tablecloths and various charcuterie hanging above the bar.

On the night we visit our table is one of the best in the house, tucked into the corner near the counters with the fire from the pizza oven providing a cosy ambience. It is the kind of environment in which it is very easy to see a couple of hours slip by almost unnoticed.

Authentic Italian is the order of the day so that is what we are after. For starters we go for the beef carpaccio (VND 220,000) and the calabrese salad (VND 190,000). The carpaccio is topped with a handful of green leaves and goes well with the basket of varied breads which come complimentary. The calabrese salad, as always, is a delight. The simple colours are always striking, not to mention reminiscent of the Italian flag, and the combination of the plump slices of mozzarella, tomato and basil is a perfect blend of flavours.

For the mains it was something of a surf and turf arrangement with the ossobuco di vitello (VND 310,000) and the grigliata mista di mare (VND 310,000). The veal shanks were so tender a knife was not required for the meat to fall from the bone, and the chunky carrots and sauce made for a lustrous and satisfyingly decadent dish. The platter of grilled seafood included clams, shrimp, lobster, salmon and sea bass. Everything was superbly fresh and imbued with a smoky edge from flame grilling.

By this stage we are feeling more than a little Don-ish: large, well fed and the master of all that we survey. This apprehension is not dissuaded by a generous cheese platter (VND 350,000) and a lovely Australian shiraz from the King Valley to round off the meal.

Basillico is a good example of how restaurants pegged as being of a particular stripe can have so much more to offer when we take the chance to view it from a different angle. All together, it presents an opportunity that you can’t really refuse.

Corner Nguyen Du and Le Van Huu, D1

Tel: (08) 3520 9099

7.30am to 10.30pm, seven days


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