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Bastas [PDX]

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Any thoughts on Bastas? I keep getting conflicting reports...

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  1. I like Basta's a lot. Their food is excellent. Their chairs, however, can be very uncomfortable during one of their long, special dinners, though. Try going for just a regular dinner or drinks in the lounge are comfortable, too. The food is definitely worth going there for.Best regards,Amanda

    1. I've always enjoyed Basta's. Lots of good choices. Teriffic carpaccio. Usually a sauteed fish special - snapper or something else, fresh and simply prepared. Wish they still served lunch - even if just once per week.

      1. It's hard to develop really high expectations for a place housed in a former Tastee Freeze. But, hell, that was a generation or so ago, and hardly anybody remembers, right?

        I have always considered Basta's a decent place for a decent Italian meal---you know, in the strong 7 to 7.5 on the 10 scale. I visited a couple weeks ago with a person of the Italian variety. I had a puttanesca which was tasty, but not as seriously piquant as I would expect from that preparation. The pasta itself was properly al dente. My date had something she thought was pretty mediocre, though I am struggling to remember what it was. (N.B.: This could either be a problem with the dish or the person doing the remembering; probably it's a little of both.) We shared a caesar salad which, again, was decent, but nothing to go nuts about--no anchovies (maybe a dribble of paste in the dressing) and not enough garlic to make my office mates want to avoid me the next day.

        In the final analysis, you can do a lot better--unfortunately for Basta's, the better is only a few blocks north on NW 21st.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mczlaw

          I agree with the 7.5 rating. Maybe 8 or so with grade inflation. (I mean, afterall, if you're comparing it to places in Italy or NY...) But when you say "better is only a few blocks north on NW 21st" this doesn't give the whole picture. One thing about Basta's is it's cheaper than all of these places, often significantly. It's arguably a much better value than Mingo, Tuscany Grill, Serratto, or Basilico.

          Personally, I generally wait until Basta's has one of their special dinners, where they really shine and the value quotient goes through the roof. ($35 for 7 course meals with all you can eat spit roasted pig!!!)

          1. re: extramsg

            Wow! I'm a pig for pig. I'd sure like to know when this is happening next.

            Must admit that relative value is not my standard mode of food analysis, but I see the point as long we don't drift too far down the scale ("The chipped beef on toast was dreadful, but hey, they were only charging $1.25 for a big plate.")

            1. re: mczlaw

              I agree. But I don't think Basta's is bad just less creative/impressive, as Jill said.

              Here's one of last year's pig roasts (he did multiple last year). I was wrong, btw, there were 11 courses for $35:

              http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?n...

              This one was in May. He's been doing mostly wine dinners this year. I post all his email announcements at the link below. He's also done a mushroom dinner and a fish dinner this year. Maybe he didn't want to commit to the all day pig roast.

              btw, did you see that Sauton did a pig roast for Bastille Day?

              Link: http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?n...

              1. re: mczlaw

                We went to their pig dinner last year, and while it was a 'good deal', it was not what I was expecting, pork-wise. I was expecting crackling succulent roasted pig skin, like this: http://www.megnut.com/2007/05/heritag.... But the meat, while juicy, was kind of flavorless. FWIW, he does it every year, sometimes twice a year.

            2. I've been going there for many years, have always found the menu appealing, food consistantly outstanding, & the service (especially by Portland standards) always professional.

              My problems are with the ear-splitting noise factor & uncomfortable chairs.

              1. I like it. One of the best $20 steaks around, and yeah, the carpaccio is wonderful. Good drinks (and I hear, a good happy hour) and decent wines and very good service. A very decent caesar, but not the best I've had around here (Ken's Place is still the leader IMO).

                Nice atmosphere (esp. for a former Tasty Freeze! ;o) but yes, the chairs are uncomfortable...my big complaint: the metal bar ends up leaving a bruise in the middle of my back whenever I go there. I keep kidding around that next time I go there, I am showing up with one of those green and white striped outdoor chair/lounge cushions... Marco, why oh why the torture-device chairs?

                One of the big pluses is that they have a parking lot and almost none of the other places around there does. I also think their prices are a bit better than some of the other Italian joints around there. They tend to handle large groups well because they often do large special dinners. Some of those special dinners are very tasty and a lot of fun, I have been to the mushroom one, the roast pig one, and at least one or two others - they are always a good value, too.

                Basta's is very good for basics. It's not really a WOW kind of place, but more of a consistently good place in terms of food and service. Nothing wrong with that as far as I am concerned...

                1. Chowhound has finally failed me! A friend and I were visiting PDX last night (a Tuesday) and went to Basta's based on the recommendations on this board.

                  The server did not have a wine recommendation (and the wine list is exclusively Italian). She also didn't know anything about the food.

                  Mista salad good (but who can screw up a basic green salad?), but pasta entrees too salty and rampant cigarette smoking outdoors a huge distraction from the culinary experience.

                  I am very into "casual but good," and I can deal with so-so service, but a restaurant needs either very good food or very good service. I am sorry to report that, on this night, Basta's had neither.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: christoforo

                    Sounds like you had a lot of distractions. I'd suggest giving it another try. Go for happy hour to keep the risk low. Avoid that server.

                  2. I like Basta's a lot and go there quite often. I must warn people away from a recent razor clam special. They were poorly cleaned and overcooked: a grittty, rubbery mess.

                    That being said, they do a lot of things well.