If you are passionate about upmarket fine dining, BASILICO Italian Restaurant, which was officially opened in June, is the place to visit. Nestled in the heart of one of Gaborone’s posh suburbs Extension 11, everything about this restaurant screams exclusivity and class.
Pre-booking is essential to secure a table at this restaurant. Even loyal clients are expected to book for a table and some who already call this place a home away from home have their favourite spots. Designed by an architect who knew and understood the vision that she had for this special place, the hard work that went into turning this dream into reality is crystal clear. From the glasses, to the tables, the chairs and even the leather bound menus, BASILICO’s enchanting appeal is just marvellous, romantic and attractive.
According to the Director, Arianna Francioni, the establishment is a one of a kind restaurant that specialises in everything Italian. Both the menu and the wines on offer are 100 percent Italian. The wines are bought straight from Italy, together with other ingredients that cannot be sourced locally.
Francioni, a qualified architect is very hands-on when it comes to her ‘baby’, something that her patrons admire. She says that the restaurant was a dream that took well over a year and some months to bring to life. She sees to the daily operations of the restaurant and clearly understands that her up-market clientele (both from private, corporate as well as government) require a special service that they can only get here. BALISICO is dedicated to two very special partners, namely Bernie Madeleyn (who was a director/stakeholder and husband), as well as Fabio Riondino (who was their Chef Trainee and husband to Sarah, their Pastry Chef).
The duo perished recently in a train accident that happened at the Mmamashia rail road crossing. “I set up everything that you are seeing here today with him,” she explains referring to her late husband. With the support of friends, such as minister Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, Francioni who almost lost her life in the accident made a full recovery. Going forward, the plan is to turn the restaurant into a top-notch eatery that will become the epitome of excellence. With a staff complement of 25, the restaurant has a seating capacity of 50, and will soon be expanded to 70/80 seating.
Taking Style through the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, she explains that their staff members come from some of the best restaurants in areas such as the Okavango and Cape Town and have an impressive background in fine dining. She highlights that the response to the restaurant has been overwhelming and that they are often fully booked. “Our guests find the food delicious and they appreciate every little detail here. They also appreciate the fact that I am hands on.” Francioni adds that they have affectionate clients who they already recognise, and they now know what they love. “We understand that our customers are not just a number,” she notes.
Before relocating to Botswana, Francioni worked for the United Nations, while her husband was a pilot. The lovebirds met there and eventually moved to Botswana due to the political unrest in their home country. “We both fell in love with the country and decided to relocate here.”
But what is it that gives this restaurant a special feel? Francioni points out that it is the fact that everything is made in-house including the Tagliatelle, and that they start with the raw ingredients. On the menu, which is surprisingly reasonably priced, customers get to indulge in starters such as Carpaccio (which is to die for), Tempura Di Gamberi, as well as the Soup of the day (which changes daily).
Pasta dishes include Risotto, Ravioli Ricotta & Spinach, Lasagne Alla Bolognaise, and the Pizza’s include Focacia, Margheritta, Basilico and Salame. Those with a sweet tooth can throw caution to the wind and try desserts such as Tiramisu, Fruit and Custard tart and Lintz tart. Besides the Italian wines, the restaurant also boasts quality South African wines on their list. If you are lucky enough to book a table and sample the array of dishes on offer, you will walk out satiated and appreciative of why the restaurant has loyal clients who regularly come here.