La Mesa Chamber welcomes Cucina Basilico

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The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce helped Cucina Basilico, one of its newest members, hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 19 at the restaurant. Owners Francesca and Danilo De Corato and their partners Stefano and Sara Panzeri had nearly 60 people attending a warm, welcoming dinner party.

The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce helped Cucina Basilico, one of its newest members, hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 19 at the restaurant. Owners Francesca and Danilo De Corato and their partners Stefano and Sara Panzeri had nearly 60 people attending a warm, welcoming dinner party.

Located in the place formerly occupied by the Chicken Nest restaurant, Cucina Basilico is light, airy and beautiful inside. The interior décor sports the creative flair of De Corato, who has a background in construction as well as cuisine. 

“I love to cook and build things,” he said, while forming gnocchi balls out of a hunk of dough. 

De Corato built the practical and pretty plant holder shelves separating one part of the long dining room from another, yet allowing the diners to see out the wide, clean windows. The wood of old wine barrels provided the inspiration for De Corato to create flowers and other objects for the walls. 

While De Corato takes charge of the kitchen in orders, training, and cooking, his wife is in charge of the dining room and office. 

Then we coordinate, so everything goes smoothly,” she said.

Everyone made room for her as De Corato and her sister brought out platters of lusciously light Pesto Lasagna, Caprese, Bowtie Pasta with Marinara and plenty of Insalata. Other treats for the evening were organic beets topped with soft goat cheese, and Arancini, which are deep-fried croquettes stuffed with mozzarella cheese and rice.

Even the aromatic water, flavored with fresh cucumbers, was a delight. 

“I’ve been here already several times,” said Kristine Avram. “I’m part Italian, so I really appreciate the authenticity of the recipes at this place.”

“This is definitely not cookie-cutter food,” said Mary England, president of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce. “We are so proud to have this family in La Mesa.”

Both the De Corato and Panzeri families live in La Mesa. The De Coratos were the first to move from their homeland of Milano, Italy 14 years ago.

“My husband and I came here to San Diego on a vacation to the United States vacation and absolutely fell in love with San Diego. We knew we had to make a home here,” De Corato said.

The De Coratos already had some experience with the restaurant business, so they determined to open their own featuring northern Italian cuisine typical of Milano, Italy. For several years, they continued to travel back to that great city to receive yet more training in cooking and hospitality of restaurant management. The De Coratos finally opened a small restaurant in Pacific Beach, later moving it to Serra Mesa. They settled on La Mesa as the place for their home and their second location of Cucina Basilico. 

“It is nice being in La Mesa,” De Corato said as she brought out a tray of their homemade Tiramisu. “It is a little bit like being in the country because we are in the hills. And La Mesa is not too big of a city. Danilo and I were both getting very tired of life in a city as big as Milano.”

Miss La Mesa Susanna Wiggins picked up one of the cups of Tiramisu and took a small bite with her spoon. Her eyes widened. “I like this. I have tried Tiramisu at other places, and never really liked it, but this tastes wonderful,” she said, digging into the layers of mascarpone cheese sauce. 

“We believe in simple and genuine ingredients. And we are a restaurant where you can see the owners on site working and that’s because we care a lot,” De Corato said.

England sat down at one of the tables to enjoy her dinner. “We are going to do everything we can to make sure that have everything they need to make their restaurant a success in La Mesa,” she said.

At 7200 Parkway Drive, Cucina Basilico is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, 4:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, go to their website at www.cucinabasilicolamesa.com or call 619-825-3171. The restaurant also has a Facebook page at Facebook/cucinabasilicolamesa.

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