Atlanta Restaurant Review: Bastone

If $35 is too much, $12 will get you an order of the house masterpiece, big a mano. And, the show is free when you sit down at the bar, to watch the staff squeeze, stretch, bend and shape the mozzarella into a firm (compared to others on the menu), round and flat that hits the mark for saltiness. It is finished with olive oil, salt and a few black peppercorns.

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

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

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

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

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

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

There is also a salumi bar. Like cheeses, they are sold individually (finely grated prosciutto di Parma, matured for 32 months which will melt in your mouth), or in flight. None are currently prepared on site, but cooked products are arriving.

The team of pastry chefs and bakers are also scrambling to keep up with the frenzy of orders for focaccia, an essential cheese pairing. Two types of this Italian bread – liguria and barese – are available. The first, 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 touted as having been designed to feel like an all-day happy hour, and, indeed, I’d settle for snacking on cheese, charcuterie, and a glass of almost anything on the drink menu.

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

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Bastone’s arancini combine two traditional fillings – cheese and ciccioli – in a cheesy, meaty and spicy rice ball. Ligaya Figueres/[email protected]

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Bastone's arancini combine two traditional fillings - cheese and ciccioli - in a cheesy, meaty and spicy rice ball.  Ligaya Figueres/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

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Bastone’s arancini combine two traditional fillings – cheese and ciccioli – in a cheesy, meaty and spicy rice ball. Ligaya Figueres/[email protected]

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Round two is expected to include arancini, which showcases what Bolduc has learned from more than two decades of fine dining. It combines two traditional toppings for these Italian rice balls — cheese and ciccioli (crispy leftover pork) — with mint and spring peas, making for a spicy, meaty, cheesy bite.

Other hot and cold small plates were not as sensational. The amberjack crudo brought overly thick cuts of fish and a drowning at the table of a buttermilk and basil oil vinaigrette that baffled my taste buds. The roasted broccoli, classed as a Caesar salad, looked like cold leftover broccoli. And, a sunchoke appetizer was basically a hash that might best be served as bruschetta.

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Casoncelli with prawns and a sauce enriched with ‘nduja is part of a rotating menu of eight homemade pastas at Bastone. Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

Casoncelli with prawns and a sauce enriched with 'nduja is part of a rotating menu of eight homemade pastas at Bastone.  Courtesy of Kathryn McCrary Photography

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

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Casoncelli with prawns and a sauce enriched with ‘nduja is part of a rotating menu of eight homemade 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, head chef Cory Brown and sous chef Blake Jones have some fun.

A rotating menu of eight pastas, all homemade, showcases a range of flours, textures, shapes and flavors from across Italy: casoncelli stuffed with prawns and a divine savory and silky ‘nduja’ sauce; the cresc tajat, a polenta-based pasta, whose sausage sugo and ricotta hit the mark like biscuits and gravy; and orecchiette accompanied by roasted bone marrow – the bone standing upright with a spoon to scoop up the creamy, melty gelatin.

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One of the desserts available at Bastone is a buttermilk donut with a scoop of tarragon ice cream. Ligaya Figueres/[email protected]

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

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One of the desserts available at Bastone is a buttermilk donut with a scoop of tarragon ice cream. Ligaya Figueres/[email protected]

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On the dessert side, pass a dry cake with olive oil and point instead to a buttermilk donut with a scoop of tarragon ice cream.

Although Bastone’s first few weeks saw a few hiccups, each dish promises fresh, reinvented flavors. And, with a staff as energetic and creative as this, there’s reason to return again and again, just like you did when piles of burgers were built into those tiered 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

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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

Credit: Kathryn McCrary Photography, LLC

BASTON

Food: mozzarella bar, Italian small plates and pasta

A service: friendly, attentive

Best Dishes: fatt’ a mano mozzarella, arancini, charred polpo, pasta (casconelli, cresc tajat, orecchiette), buttermilk donut

Vegetarian Selections: many options of mozzarella, Jerusalem artichoke caponata, various salads, always at least one pasta dish; diets and allergies are noted at reception

Alcohol: yes (Italian-focused drink program)

Price scale: $$$-$$$$

Credit card: all major cards accepted

Hours: 4pm-10pm Sunday to Thursday, 4pm-11pm Friday to Saturday

Children: sure, but it’s mostly an adult destination

Car park: valet or paid street parking

MARTA Station: Downtown

Reservations: advised

Wheelchair access: yes

Noise level: medium

To go out: order by phone (no delivery)

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

Website: bastoneatlanta.com

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