Photo by Alec Dixon.
0214 Basil Pizza Thai
Basil serves a Thai Pizza among other specialty varieties.
There’s no cheese on Thai Pizza.
With a covering of Thai peanut sauce base, there’s no need. And that’s before you get to the chicken and red onion, with shredded carrots and cilantro on top. Basil Gourmet Pizza & Bar owner Cole Harvey said once he gets customers to try it, they come back for it.
The sauce recipe comes from his wife Nesha’s mom, a chef at a Thai restaurant in North Carolina.
On other dishes like the Margherita Pizza and Caprese Salad, fresh basil is king, as the restaurant’s name suggests. The ingredient is common in both Thai and Italian cooking, after all. The specialty drink menu even features a Grapefruit Basil Martini, Basil Mojito and Basil Smash.
Basil or not, Harvey has tried to create pizza specialties you’re not likely to find anywhere else, which recently opened in the former Big Blue Bagel space in Crestline Park.
The Bloomin’ Shroom features sautéed onions and mushrooms, feta and Harvey’s balsamic reduction, also found on numerous other dishes.
“It’s sweet and rich,” Harvey said.
Ranch sauce is the base of the Buffalo Chicken Pizza, which is topped with chicken, red onion, parsley and blue cheese crumbles.
Perhaps most unusual, the BLT pizza features the ingredients you might guess — plus mayonnaise.
“If you can get people over the thought of warm mayonnaise enough to try it, they like it,” Harvey said
Other specialty pizzas include the Southern Pulled Pork, BBQ Chicken, Supreme, Five Cheese, Carne and Veggie Overload. Whatever the variety, Cole ensures one thing.
“I want every pizza to look like we overdid the toppings,” he said.
Both graduates of The University of Alabama, Cole and Nesha worked in the restaurant industry in Florida before moving to Birmingham recently to be closer to old friends.
They liked that the location they chose for their first restaurant of their own was anchored in a neighborhood and next to Saw’s, which friends in town raved about. And they haven’t been disappointed.
Since opening in November, Harvey said they have already had lot of repeat business and even see some customers two to three times a week.
Beyond the pizzas, people come back for the Fried Bread and Butter Pickles and char-grilled wings.
The appetizer menu comes with an Asian flair. Calamari is combined with banana and jalapeño peppers and then fried and tossed in a sweet Thai sauce. The method for the egg rolls, and their sauces, also come from Nesha’s mom.
For the Wedge Salad, the iceberg lettuce is cut fresh to order and topped with diced tomatoes, red onion, bacon, a house-made blue cheese dressing and fresh blue cheese crumbles — plus a drizzle of that balsamic glaze.
Sandwiches such as the Muffaletta and Carne are with meat and fresh toppings like sautéed peppers and served with house-made chips.
“People come in just for our chips,” Harvey said. “They are fried to order and then salted.”
An extensive list of wines, beers and specialty drinks accompany the food menu. House wines start at $5 a glass, and bottles start at $28. Cole said he’s gotten good feedback on the wine list, which includes a one-to-three line description of each of around 30 labels. Beers include local Truck Stop Honey and Cahaba Blonde along with Magic Hat, Terrapin, Hoegaarden, Boulevard, and Thai beer Chang.
Wooden pallets now line the walls around bar, and a new bar-height booth and couches make the space feel more casual and comfortable. On the patios, there’s a big L-shaped couch, new heater and big screens for sports watching.
Basil features nightly drink specials and live music on Thursdays and Fridays.