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Monday, June 16, 2014

Buon cibo, Buon vino, Buoni amici. Baci Italian Bistro

When I think of Italian food I can’t help but picture someone’s grandmother who barely speaks English, wearing an apron and spending the whole day in the kitchen preparing the nights meal. Whether there’s 4, 8, or more over for a family meal you can count on Nonna to make enough for the whole neighborhood. Mangia! Mangia! she would shout. I remember growing up as a Jewish kid and having friends who were Italian. Jews and Italians are very similar when it comes to food and traditions. They like to cook and eat. No wonder I turned out big. I loved visiting and watching Nonna make homemade sauce (gravy to some), raviolis, even bread. You can see the love that goes into her cooking. Italian food is the food of love. Can’t be helped. It is what it is and I love it.

So, when my family recently came in from Florida, and Chicago they asked “so where does the restaurant and food maven suggest we go for a family meal?” I thought, Baci’s of course ... we all can agree that we love Italian and there is no better place in the far East Valley.

I have met Chef Francesco Greco on numerous occasions as a guest and as a sponsor of the Greater San Tan Chamber of Commerce’s Restaurant Week ... A Taste of San Tan Valley in which Baci’s participated. When Baci’s first opened on the corner of Williams Field and Power Roads I had no idea it was the same as the one currently on Germann Road. Coming from Chicago myself I was familiar with their restaurant in Plainfield Illinois but never made the connection until talking to Frank one day.

Il vero pasto all'italiana: antipasto, primo, secondo, dolce (The rhythm of an Italian meal...Appetizer, First course, Second course, Dessert)

Because Italian food is the food of love you have to start with a little foreplay. After the courteous and attentive waiter took our orders, we started with the Caprese Salad with tomatoes, onions, and basil tossed in olive oil and garlic with fresh mozzarella ... one of my favorites. Great for dipping the Italian bread in the vinaigrette. Next came the soups ... some had the Clam Chowder others the classic Minestrone. Both were very good. One thing about my family is we order a bunch of different things and share. That way we all get to taste everything so we know what to order the next time.

We also ordered a Mushroom and Sausage Pizza that came in perfect timing right after the appetizers and soups. Got to keep that rhythm going. Thin crust with big pieces of Italian sausage, mushrooms and great tasting cheese. Remember, not all pizza’s are created equally. If you’re used to having you’re pizza delivered and like it this is probably not for you. Baci’s uses the freshest, high quality ingredients and you taste it.

We’re all looking like we’re getting full but nobody blinked an eye. There was no rush, the entries came out perfectly timed again so we could enjoy conversation in between courses.

This is where our individual tastes came out. Almost everyone ordered a different dish so we got a pretty darn good representation of the kitchen’s capabilities.

I ordered one of the specials ... Sausage Boscaiola. Huge portions of Portobello mushrooms and Italian sausage sautéed in a basil pomodoro sauce served with fettuccine. WOW, was that ever good, full of flavor with a little kick. I knew I had leftovers, but I couldn’t stop eating it.

My niece and my sister ordered the Chicken Vesuvio and we split our dishes. I love a good Vesuvio with the peas, onions, and potatoes sautéed in a Chablis wine sauce. Everything was perfectly cooked and hot. They all said it was very good.

My great nieces ordered the Baked Stuffed Shells, and the Baked Manicotti with meat sauce. They are pretty picky eaters so I was surprised that they both liked their dishes and the soups.

My great nephew who just graduated from high school and is partly the reason we’re out for dinner ordered the Shrimp & Scallops Alfredo which looked great but I didn't get a chance to try it. All I can say is the plate was empty by the time they came to take the dishes away. Enough said.

Last but not least my other niece had the Eggplant Parmigiana served with meat sauce and Gnocchi. A very filling and tasty dish which she loved.

E ora per il dessert (and now for dessert)

What a great meal. Chef Frank and company did themselves proud. One of the best meals I think we all had in some time. So when the waiter brought the dessert menu we all looked at each other and shook our heads ... except me. C’mon ... I’ve heard stories about the Chef’s homemade cannoli’s. I can’t just leave without trying them. So we ordered just a couple hand-filled cannoli’s and some spumoni ice cream to pass around. The cannoli’s were huge and you can tell they were just made fresh so the outer dough would not get soggy.  All I can tell you is you can’t pass this up. The best cannoli on the planet! 

Wholly Cannoli.

As the title says, Buon cibo, Buon vino, Buoni amici (Good Food, Good Wine, Good Friends.


Baci’s Italian Bistro
8830 E. Germann Road, Mesa 85212

Half mile West of Ellsworth Road.

Mon 4-9
Fri 11-10

Tues - Thurs 11-9
Sat 4-10
Sun 4-9

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