WILMINGTON — Boasting an unapologetic commitment to Italian traditions and authentic recipes, Quanto Basta Italian Eatery & Wine Bar will open in downtown Wilmington on Thursday.
The family-run restaurant’s opening comes after two years of meticulous planning and intensive renovations of a unique 1800s building that previously housed law offices.
Separated by a courtyard that can seat 17 (in non-Covid-19 times), Quanto Basta’s U-shaped layout is distinctive in an urban setting.
The casual yet upscale restaurant’s entire menu was handcrafted by head chef and founder, Timothy Grandinetti, inspired by recipes from his upbringing.
Next to Ironclad Brewery, the Second Street location is Quanto Basta’s second. After opening in downtown Winston-Salem in 2015, its owners Lynette Matthews-Murphy and Lynn Murphy opened a short-lived second location near Clemmons, N.C., but soon set their focus on Wilmington in 2018.
Click to slide photos: (Left) Fettucini John Angelo with rotisserie chicken, cremini mushrooms and spinach; (right) Rotisserie chicken served with Utica greens. (Food photographs Courtesy Quanto Basta, Kyle Duncan Photography.)
After a career in event planning, Matthews-Murphy fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2012 when she renovated the historic Bahnson House mansion into the Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar, a southern-style restaurant in Winston-Salem. With Quanto Basta Wilmington, Matthews-Murphy has again renovated an aging building into something entirely new.
Her team gutted three old law offices, combining them into a single space and removing the second story to make way for high ceilings.
Accordion-style glass doors open up on either side of the restaurant to the courtyard, where ivy is crawling its way across new fairy lights. The Grotto, large enough to seat 36, will serve as a private event space and overflow seating when events aren’t booked.
Matthews-Murphy’s son, general manager Vance Matthews, sold the Quanto Basta team on downtown Wilmington after living in town and working for Untappd, located just two blocks down the street. Matthews said Wilmington’s similarities to Winston-Salem — both downtowns experiencing an upswing thanks to various revitalization efforts — convinced him the restaurant could work on the coast.
Featuring the same menu as Quanto Basta Winston-Salem, QB Wilmington will be sure to highlight seafood-centric specials. Matthews’ favorite item is the Tagliatelle, a comforting pasta dish with bolognese sauce.
“It simmers all day,” Matthews said of the dish. “It’s that beef and pork cooked down, super meat-forward sauce I like to call it. It’s just an awesome flavor.”
The restaurant is also well-known for its pizzas, roasted in the “Cadillac of ovens,” Matthews-Murphy said. The pizzas are 12-inch personal pies — still too large for Matthews to finish by himself in one sitting, he said.
“You’re not going to go wrong with anything on the menu honestly,” Matthews said.
The restaurant hosted private soft openings last Thursday and Friday, and even though Covid-19 has put a damper on the industry, the reception exceeded Matthews’ and Matthews-Murphy’s expectations.
“People were dressed to the nines, I mean it was festive. People were so happy to be out and be in a new space. It was so gratifying,” Matthews-Murphy said. “We get the sense right now that Wilmington is very ready for this.”
At the Winston-Salem location, Quanto Basta has been forced to cut hours and reduce its days in operation. “It has really rocked our world,” Matthews-Murphy said of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recognizing the restaurant’s and its staff’s difficulties withstanding the spring closure, Matthews-Murphy still sees the silver lining: the downtime allowed the team to pour all their focus into finishing the Wilmington project. “In that one real respect, we felt grateful that we had the time that we otherwise would not have had to work on this.”
Quanto Basta has a new take-home menu that includes family-style meals, with zitis, lasagnas, and more. Reservations will be available on OpenTable when the restaurant opens for the first time Thursday evening.
Check out more photos of Quanto Basta Wilmington below:
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