Bazil Restaurant is a casual Italian eatery in Rochester, NY, offering a variety of Italian food favorites in a cozy, family atmosphere. Bazil opened for business in March of 2002 and moved to a new location in Penfield in September of 2004. Upon driving up to the restaurant, I was impressed by the grand entrance, exterior stonework and the stairway overlooking the water. The parking was plentiful, free and just steps from the front door. A small patio area in the front of the restaurant set the tone for an inviting entryway. The restaurant also has boat access to the Southpoint Marina.
Our visit was in the late Spring, otherwise known as “prom season,” so I was not surprised to see several young couples, dressed in taffeta and rented tuxes, enjoying the waterfront views after a nice dinner, on their way to their prom.
We were greeted promptly as we arrived at the front desk, just inside the entryway and because we made a reservation, we were immediately seated. Our table was near the back of the restaurant, facing the semi-outdoor seating area, with a water view. I say semi-outdoor because the exterior seating was covered with a roof, while the “walls” were made of retractable plastic panes – always a good idea in Rochester weather.
At first, I thought that our table was in a nice cozy corner. However, it soon became clear that we were seated in a very heavy traffic area, where wait staff had to squeeze between tables and in and out of the door leading to the outside seating area.
Bazil offers a casual family Italian atmosphere. I liked the décor as it was reminiscent of a Mediterranean piazza on a summer evening. The warm color scheme and lighting was a nice touch. However, the noise level made it difficult to carry on an easy conversation with my table mates. We found ourselves practically yelling, just to be heard! I noticed that the tables near us were also rather cramped and having trouble hearing each other.
On the way out, I noticed that the bar area was rather large, but not nearly full with patrons. The front lobby area was plenty big enough, and included a few high tables and chairs for diners awaiting their tables.
Owned by the Daniele family, Bazil (and it’s more formal sister restaurant, Mario’s) uses family recipes that can be traced all the way back to the Daniele family’s ancestral Italian village. Mario, along with his two sons Anthony & Danny, created a casual restaurant concept called “Bazil – A Casual Italian Kitchen”.
Bazil offers a variety of themed/specialty menus, to please most any diner. These include: Dining Room Menu, Balanced Bites Menu (with cocktails under 190 calories, appetizers under 290 calories, and entrees under 590 calories), Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and Low Carb. With all of these menus, I found it odd that they did not have a children’s menu for the little ones. The ‘Make Your Own Pasta’ and ‘Make Your Own Pizza’ sections of the menu did seem kid friendly though.
I noticed that the Dining Room Menu was heavily sprinkled with seafood starters and sides. A few of the seafood items included crab and lobster bisque ($6.95), crab cakes ($12.95), coconut shrimp ($13.95), calamari salad ($13.95), twin lobster tails ($29.95) and lobster and crab mac and cheese ($22.95).
Of course, popular Italian favorites such as Chicken French, Lasagna, Manicotti, and many other pasta dishes were also prominently displayed on the menu.
All of the entrees at Bazil include unlimited soup or family style salad and warm bread sticks. My friends and I ordered an assortment of Italian specialties. One of my dinner companions also ordered a glass of Montepulicano, which is a smooth and full-bodied red wine ($5.95). She said that she enjoyed it very much.
I ordered the Taste of Italy ($17.95), which included three items: lasagna, chicken parmesan, and manicotti. This entrée reminded me of the Tour of Italy at The Olive Garden, a national Italian chain restaurant (they also offer unlimited soup or salad, and bread sticks). I had looked forward to this dinner for a while and I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
The lasagna was a tower of eight layers of pasta, with meat, sauce and cheesy goodness throughout. Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes – I can say that this is one of the better lasagna dishes I have tasted (other than my own, of course!). The manicotti was stuffed with ricotta and served with a light, alfredo sauce. The mixture of the red meat sauce and the white alfredo sauce on my plate was a great combination – perfect to sop up with the warm, soft bread sticks. The chicken parmesan was good, but a bit overdone for my taste, as the breaded outside was quite crusty. Still, the chicken was tender on the inside and the portion was large enough for an entire dinner, rather than 1/3 of an entrée!
One of my dinner companions ordered the Basil Combo, which included chicken and artichokes over shrimp with capellini pasta. She reported that it was quite tasty and that the sauce was thicker than the typical pasta sauce. The bed of capellini pasta was a nice change from the traditional escarole and the two large chicken breasts were much more food than she had expected. She said that she would gladly order it again.
My other dinner companion ordered Manicotti ($14.95). It was the same item that was included as part of my Taste of Italy dish. Served with an alfredo sauce, it had a delicate texture which she liked very much. She also mentioned that she liked the combination of white alfredo sauce and red sauce in her dish. I believe her words were that it was “to die for”…quite the ringing endorsement!
Known for their Funnel Cakes, Bazil is the place to go for dessert. Although we did not partake on this trip, I have had their funnel cake in the past, and loved it. Doughy and covered with sugar, it is a delight for the taste buds.
We were “good eaters” (as an Italian grandmother might say) when it came to the unlimited salad and warm bread sticks. The salad was fresh and crisp, with a great mix of field greens. However, I noticed that it did not include any pepperoncini, which is a favorite of mine. Next time, I will be sure to ask if they can include a few. The bread sticks were always warm and soft, making it so easy to down more than I should have.
Our waitress was courteous and efficient, quickly refilling our unlimited salad, bread basket and water glasses. While it did take quite a while for our entrees to arrive (about 30 minutes), we weren’t too concerned, because we were busy with the salad and bread. She checked on us during the meal to make sure that we were enjoying ourselves. Also, the waitress happily prepared take home boxes for us when we couldn’t finish our meals (probably because of all that bread!). We were pleased with the service and have no complaints.
Overall, we were happy with our experience at Bazil Restaurant. I would recommend it without hesitation, for families, couples, groups and seniors. The moderately priced, expansive menus selections offer something for everyone and the staff will gladly customize your meal to meet your needs. Be ready for a busy dining room with a lot of hustle and bustle. This isn’t the place for a quiet evening, but rather a place to celebrate good food and express yourself with family and friends.
If you go:
1384 Empire Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14609
Business Hours: Mon-Thurs: 4:30pm – 9:30pm,Fri: 4:30pm – 10pm, Sat: Noon-10pm
Sunday Brunch: 10am – 2pm, Sunday: 4pm-9pm
Meals Served: Lunch, Dinner, Sunday Brunch
Children’s Menu: No
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Requires Reservations: No, but does take them and can be taken on-line
Table Service: Yes
Take Out: Yes, with Express Pick Up available (curbside)
Outdoor Seating: Yes, seasonal
Parking: Free and plentiful in the adjacent mall parking lot
Valet Service: No
Bar Seating: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
Coat Check: Self-service
Date opened: September, 2004
Date visited: Friday, June 20, 2014