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Basilico Restaurant, Oranmore, Galway

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Paolo Sabatini knows both the Italian art of cooking, and the Italian art of eating.
He knows that to cook well, you must first source your foods with precise care, so his menus celebrate the West Coast champions – Gannet fish; Achill mountain lamb; Friendly Farmer poultry; Brady's beef; Green Earth organics. And with these peerless foods at his fingertips, he then waves that culinary magic that ushers in the “gift of making art out of life”, as Marcella and Victor Hazan describe this marvellous alchemy.
Mr Sabatini's skills are best shown in dishes like the rare “Culurzones” alla Cagliaritana, where he fills ravioli with potato, onion and Pecorino cheese and tops it with a rabbit ragu. As a  statement of cucina povera it is hard to beat – simple, earthy and gutsy ingredients ennobled by gracious, patient cooking. But then he will blindside you with a simple panciotti with lemon and herbs that is so ethereal, and such a contrast to the muscular culurzones, that you seem to have passed from Calabria and gone straight through to Rome.
The pasta dishes show Mr Sabatini's skills at their best, so his carbonara is lush, his scialatelli with clams and porcini is both saline and woodsy, his canelloni is sublime. But the confidence shows right through the menu, and goes all the way to the adroit service, overseen by Fabio Mulas, who also organises a super wine list. The room is super-comfortable, so even a quiet mid-weeek dinner feels special. Basilico is a real gem on the WAW thanks to the fact that everyone here strives for authenticity, everyone is striving to make “art out of life.”

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