A place like Basta Pasta Enoteca is a Cheap Eater’s dream: the food and service are very good, the prices are right, and the atmosphere casual and fun. That’s because chef/owner Reno Hoxallari has had a lot of practice. He cooked at Via Matta and Bambara before opening his first Basta Pasta in Cambridge, which became a hit. But it’s tiny and mostly takeout.
This 48-seat Quincy incarnation, in the old Tullio’s, is a real restaurant, stylized and sleek without feeling cold. “We have everything here we don’t have in Cambridge: we have the parking lot, we have the liquor license,’’ he says. Hoxallari, who was raised in Albania, gutted the space himself. He got rid of everything but the brick oven.
Bless that oven. It turns out some great pizza, the crust a bit puffy with slightly charred edges. Try the pancetta ($12.95), which besides the Italian bacon also has sweet caramelized onions and smoky gouda. We also love arancini ($5.50), miniature fried rice balls, crisp on the outside, with gooey fontina in the center. Sauteed calamari ($6.95) are a nice relief from the usual fried. They’re not too chewy and come in a garlicky marinara sauce with black olives and capers that add a tart note.