Basil Leaf Cafe - the Little Italy


If you want something Italian for your next food trip, one of the best places you can visit is Basil Leaf Café.

Whether you’re in the mood for some fresh salads, pesto and of course pasta, this restaurant can give you a delightful experience.

There’s no need to travel to Italy just to experience a luxurious Italian feast. Just a few blocks from home and you can satisfy your starving stomach.

Authentic Italian Cuisine Served Fresh

Basil Leaf Cafe menusIf you’re like most people, the first thing that would come to your mind upon hearing the words ‘Italian Cuisine’ is pasta. Italy is known for its rich culinary culture. We can say that Italy was able to make its own food culture which is entirely unique to them. Italians are very serious about food preparation. Who won’t? Special occasions won’t be made special without serving your guests with mouth-watering dishes. Eating is a favorite past time and recreational activity for many families, couples and friends, even if that means spending hundreds of bucks in a luxurious restaurant. Americans love American dish but they also love a wide range of international cuisines and among those that they truly enjoy is the Italian cooking. There’s no wonder why the Basil Leaf Café has become very successful in the US, now having numerous branches all throughout the country. There are branches in Chicago, Danville, Lawrence, San Francisco, and many other cities.

Their Story

The cozy atmosphere, warm and inviting environment, and the good food – you’ll find it all at the Basil Leaf Café. It was in 1984 when the very first branch of Basil Leaf Café was established in the US, particularly in the City of New York. It was formerly known as Pastas Café. After 4 triumphant years, the restaurant expanded, opening up another branch in the North Shore of Long Island to the west coast. The company has also partnered with Pasta Primavera until 1994 which has paved way in the establishment of many other restaurants. And in 1998, the Basil Leaf Café arrived in Chicago.

What’s the secret? It’s none other than basil! This leaf is among the world’s most popular spices that are being used in many different cuisines. In Asia for instance, basil is a basic ingredient used with meat and seafood.

The Restaurant

Other than the food, dining in a beautiful environment is the next reason why it has been customary for many of us to go out and eat in some fancy fast food chains. Perhaps, this is the difference between home cooking and restaurant cooking. Restaurants don’t just save you the hassle of preparing food at home, they also aim to relax your mind and fulfill your sight with their uniquely designed venues. Basil Leaf Café restaurant is a giant cottage that provides a very relaxing atmosphere. They have tables if you want to eat in an open space. Inside, there are wooden panels that serve as walls, stone-tiled floors, huge windows and Italian-inspired interior décor. Speaking of the décor, the restaurant gives one an impression that the fixtures and designs have been carefully decided on. Customers, especially couples, enjoy the romantic candlelit dinner table. There are also big tables for families and groups of friends where they can enjoy Italian food served with cold Chianti.

The Food

Along with the ambiance, great décor and relaxing environment comes the great dishes. From the appetizers to the main course, the Basil Leaf Café menus have something fresh and delicious to offer you. Let’s talk about their authentic Italian dishes that will surely satisfy your discriminating taste. If you’re in the mood for some Caprese, you can visit any branch of Basil Leaf Café and enjoy freshly made Caprese topped with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and onions. Of course, they wouldn’t be called an Italian restaurant without salads. They have freshly made salads that are served in half and full orders. One thing that many people love about this café is their wide range of menus. If you’re a vegan, you can try their baby spinach served with Gorgonzola and poached pear or their lettuce salad with butter, pine nuts and cranberry. They also have house salads, Greek salad, spring mixed with berries, and the Romaine avocado salad which is an all-time favorite appetizer that comes with tomatoes, carrots, onions and lemon vinaigrette.


Aside from pasta, Italians are also known for their love of seafood. The Basil Leaf Café’s Cioppino is the best-selling dish. This sumptuous, hearty and luscious dish is a combination of clams, scallops, shrimps, mussels, salmons, and of course – crabs. All of them are cooked in fresh tomato broth. Cioppino is served with creamy lobster tail that melts in your tongue. If you’re a lobster addict, you should really try their Lobster Ravioli. This seafood comes with thick ice cream sauce, crisp veggies and tasty, juicy shrimp. This mouth-watering dish is perfect for pasta. Fettuccine Crab Meat is another pride of Basil Leaf Café. This authentic Italian pasta comes with dill sauce and sweet peas. They also serve fettuccini with salmon. And speaking of salmon, the grilled salmon served with asparagus and dill sauce is another great pick if you’re looking for some gratifying dinner. They also offer smoked trout that is topped with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and mushrooms. There are so many other dishes for seafood lovers.

Basil Leaf Café is also the home of delightful desserts. If you’re a dessert fanatic, you must try their popular pastries. They have this ‘Apple Galette’ which isn’t too sweet. The apples are undercooked so you can still taste its natural texture. Cakes are also available and one of the top choices is the triple-chocolate mud cake. You can also try their Mississippi mud pie which is a mixture of chocolate, ice cream, Kahlua, and raspberries.

The People

Lunch and dinner are served daily and on Sundays they offer Champagne brunch. Because they serve great food, you can expect that they have good customer service too. When we’re in a restaurant, we don’t just want to be given with the best of their dishes but also with the best of their service. Online reviews would confirm that the Basil Leaf Café is staffed with hospitable and friendly people from their chefs to the food servers and crew.

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