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Atlanta restaurant review: Bastone


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If $35 is too much, $12 will get you an order of the house masterpiece, fatt’ by hand. And, the show is free when you grab a seat at the bar, to watch staff squeeze, stretch, fold and shape the mozzarella into a firm (compared with the others on the menu), flat round that hits the mark for salinity. It’s finished with olive oil, salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper.

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Grab a seat at Bastone’s bar to watch the staff squeeze, stretch, fold and shape mozzarella. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC


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Grab a seat at Bastone's bar to watch the staff squeeze, stretch, fold and shape mozzarella.  Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

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Grab a seat at Bastone’s bar to watch the staff squeeze, stretch, fold and shape mozzarella. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

There’s also a salumi bar. Like the cheeses, they are sold individually (thinly shaved, 32-month-aged prosciutto di Parma that will melt in your mouth), or as a flight. None currently is prepared in-house, but cooked products are coming.

The pastry-baking crew likewise is trying to keep up with the frenzy of focaccia orders, an essential pairing for the cheese. Two types of this Italian bread — liguria and bare — are available. The former, my recommendation, brings a thick square with subtle earthy notes of rye flour. The latter, a fried round, was oily and heavy.

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Bastone’s cocktails include the Ace of Clubs, a riff on a dirty martini. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Bastone's cocktails include the Ace of Clubs, a riff on a dirty martini.  Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

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Bastone’s cocktails include the Ace of Clubs, a riff on a dirty martini. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Bastone is billed as having been designed to feel like an all-day happy hour, and, indeed, I’d be content to nibble away on cheese, cured meat and a glass of most anything on the beverage menu.

An Italian-focused wine list from beverage director Anthony Panzica is approachable, yet explorable. A tight beer list might bring a new-to-you Italian brew. And, cocktails developed by Leo Briggs are superbly aligned with the restaurant’s menu, and are well-executed. A prime example is the Ace of Clubs, a spin on a dirty martini that brightly accentuates the gin’s juniper and tomato botanicals through pasta water and caper brine.

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Bastone’s arancini combines two traditional fillings — cheese and ciccioli — into a cheesy, meaty, spicy rice ball. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Bastone's arancini combines two traditional fillings — cheese and ciccioli — into a cheesy, meaty, spicy rice ball.  Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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Bastone’s arancini combines two traditional fillings — cheese and ciccioli — into a cheesy, meaty, spicy rice ball. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Round 2 should include arancini, which showcases what Bolduc has learned after more than two decades in fine dining. It two traditional fillings for these Italian rice balls—cheese and ciccioli (crispy pork scraps)—combines with springtime mint and peas, making for a cheesy, meaty, spicy bite.

Other hot and cold small plates weren’t as sensational. Raw amberjack brought overly thick cuts of fish and a tableside drowning of a buttermilk-basil oil dressing that confused my taste buds. Roasted broccoli, classified as a Caesar salad, felt akin to cold broccoli leftovers. And, a sunchoke appetizer basically was a hash that might better be served as bruschetta.

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Casoncelli with shrimp and a sauce spiked with ‘nduja is part of a rotating menu of eight house-made pastas at Bastone. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Casoncelli with shrimp and a sauce spiked with 'nduja is part of a rotating menu of eight house-made pastas at Bastone.  Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

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Casoncelli with shrimp and a sauce spiked with ‘nduja is part of a rotating menu of eight house-made pastas at Bastone. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Pasta is Pascarella’s wheelhouse, and, at Bastone, he lets Bolduc, chef de cuisine Cory Brown and sous chef Blake Jones have fun.

A rotating menu of eight pastas, all made in-house, showcases an array of flours, textures, shapes and flavors that hail from throughout Italy: stuffed casoncelli with shrimp and a divine, lusciously silky, ‘nduja-spiked sauce; cresc tajat, a pasta made with polenta, whose sausage sugo and ricotta hit the spot like biscuits and gravy; and orecchiette paired with roasted bone marrow—the bone standing upright with a spoon to scoop the unctuous, melty gelatin.

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One of the desserts available at Bastone is a buttermilk donut with a scoop of tarragon gelato. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

One of the desserts available at Bastone is a buttermilk donut with a scoop of tarragon gelato.  Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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One of the desserts available at Bastone is a buttermilk donut with a scoop of tarragon gelato. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

As for dessert, pass on a dry olive oil cake and point instead to a buttermilk donut with a scoop of tarragon gelato.

Although Bastone’s early weeks have seen some misses, every dish promises fresh, reimagined flavors. And, with a staff as energized and creative as this, there’s reason to return repeatedly, just as you did when burger stacks were being built within these storied walls.

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Bastone is located on Howell Mill Road, in the space formerly occupied by Bocado. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Bastone is located on Howell Mill Road, in the space formerly occupied by Bocado.  Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

caption arrowcaption

Bastone is located on Howell Mill Road, in the space formerly occupied by Bocado. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

CANE

Food: mozzarella bar, Italian small plates and pasta

Services: friendly, attentive

Best dishes: hand fatt’ mozzarella, arancini, charred polpo, pasta (casconelli, cresc tajat, orecchiette), buttermilk doughnut

Vegetarian selections: numerous mozzarella options, sunchoke caponata, various salads, always at least one pasta dish; diets and allergies are noted at reception desk

Alcohol: yes (Italian-focused beverage program)

Pricerange: $$$-$$$$

Credit cards: all major cards accepted

Hours: 4-10 pm Sundays-Thursdays, 4-11 pm Fridays-Saturdays

Children: sure, but this mostly is an adult destination

Parking: valet or paid street parking

MARTA station: midtown

Reservations: recommended

Wheelchair access: And it is

Noise level: mean

Takeout: order via phone (no delivery)

Address, phone: 887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-252-6699

website: bastoneatlanta.com


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