Destination Delicious | Basil Cafe

Basil Café celebrates the cuisine of the Mediterranean with a variety of textures, flavors and colors, in a cozy and casual atmosphere.

Owner and chef Ray Akhlaghi and his wife Arezoo, who oversees the front of the house, are originally from Iran and brought with them the rich flavors of the Mediterranean.

“In 1996 we moved to Germany, where Ray studied to become a Chef,” Arezoo shares. The couple relocated to Boston and worked for the Marriott for a few years, Ray as an Executive Chef and Arezoo in hospitality, before settling in St. James and opening the Basil Café in March 2017.

The café gives off a laid-back vibe inside, and outside you can dine al fresco when the weather allows, in a romantic garden of greenery. In a relatively short time, the Akhlaghi’s have amassed a loyal following of satisfied foodies.

Ann Sutter, one of their regular customers, was very enthusiastic about sharing her dining experience at Basil Cafe.

“Most restaurants start out strong and then fade. They have kept on going strong. Ray and Arezoo do a great job of making everything unique,” she says. “Ray is just amazing. The food here is always delicious.”

Exotic flavors and aromas spring from the open kitchen, where you can catch a glimpse of the open flame as Ray prepared grilled kebabs.

Instead of a bread basket, pita bread with pesto and tangy parmesan cheese was served that had a delicious bite and was very tasty. A favorite appetizer, according to Joe our server, is sautéed eggplant with crushed walnuts and blackened mint. Served with pita bread, the eggplant literally melts in your mouth.

We sampled some other freshly-made appetizers including shrimp kebabs served with fresh vegetables and a chili mango sauce. The dish was outstanding, and the perfectly grilled shrimp dipped in the sweet-spice sauce was the perfect combination.

For our entrée, the word “succulent” gets tossed around far too often, but it’s the only way to describe Basil Café’s lamb shank that literally falls off the bone. The lamb was served with jeweled rice, named for its beautiful colors. Caramelized onions, almonds, pistachios, orange zest, Persian barberry, cumin and saffron over fluffy basmati rice, was bursting with flavor.

We finished with Warm Bread Pudding, Ray’s signature dessert that not only tasted delicious, the aroma of cinnamon made your mouth water even before you lifted your fork.

Small plates deliver big flavor at this establishment. At Basil Café, you can bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal. Arezoo shared that many of their customers call ahead to request a special tasting menu, which Ray enthusiastically creates. They bring their own wine for a delicious evening out.

Authentic, healthy, rich in spices and naturally delicious, Basil Café serves Mediterranean food that loves you back.

Tuesday-Thursday, 12-9 pm
Friday and Saturday, 12-9:30 pm
Sunday, 4-9 pm
Monday, Closed

413 Lake Avenue,
St. James, NY 11790

Open for Lunch & Dinner
Reservations Suggested


Competition Magazine Volume 1 Issue 1