Now for the Good news. The reason for the sad news above is that Basil T's Toms River is shedding its name and adopting a new one. "It's time," said both owners named Pete (don't ask), "to establish our own identity." As readers will probably know, there have been two Basil T's for some time now. But that comes to an end on January 1, 2010 when the new name--
The Artisan Brewery and Italian Grill--goes up on the marquee.
But the name change will have no effect on the quality and concern for customer satisfaction that has marked this place since The Petes took over. They are "hands-on" owners who treat their staff with respect--and even love (in a non-Letterman way)--and because of that their staff is not only highly efficient, but supremely loyal. The distaff side of that staff is also something else--gorgeous. Check the pictures out.
While a soft economy has many places feeling the pinch, the Petes say they really haven't been adversely affected, and are actually seeing an increase in business. They have developed a loyal customer base that, like the attendance at the annual Oktoberfest dinner, seems to be increasing each year. Customers come because they can count on certain things from the Petes' Place. Quality food by Master Chef Steve Farley, exceptional beer by nationally known Biermeister Dave Hoffman, an attentive, efficient staff and a decor that is reminiscent of Tuscany.
That said, the name choice is apt because there is artisanship at virtually every level of the operation, from food to beer to staff to ownership.
And nowhere was that artisanship more in evidence than at last night's beer dinner. So many people wanted tickets that the Firehouse Polka Band had to set up in single file to ply their trade, as tables of revelers bracketed them.
The event was peppered with beer cognoscenti, from Star-Ledger Columnist Paul Mulshine, to beer writer and Jersey beer promoter Jeff Linkous, to Beer Artist Greg Hinlicky to Dave Hoffman's dad Kurt in full Bavarian regalia.
Steve Farley's food from the first course Bavarian Shrimp to the dessert was done in his signature style--superb. Dave Hoffman's selection of beers went very well with each course, though I confess that I stayed with his knockout Oktoberfest the whole night, and it went well with everything, too.
The pictures tell the story. Multiple "Ein Prosits" and a rousing "God Bless America" still reverberate, accompanied by smiles all around with good beer raised in celebration of good food and good company. Next year's event--The Artisan Brewery and Italian Grill Oktoberfest Celebration--will likely be a sellout, as this one was.
And they may have to start ticket sales for next year's blast on January 2, 2010, right after the new marquee goes up.
The smart money says "Buy early."
Cheers till next time!