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The 5-Second Rule – PoPville’s official unofficial food truck critique by Queenedix – Basil Thyme

Read Queenedix’s previous reviews here.

Believe it or not, Queenedix is actually one-quarter Italian. And not in the way everyone thinks MTV’s Jersey Shore cast is entirely Italian. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my first-generation Italian American grandfather lovingly picking figs, canning waxed peppers, and making sauce on a warm summer evening. Needless to say, “Ragu” was a four-letter word in my household—I hold Italian food, especially pasta, to pretty high standards. So when a consigliore raved about the manicotti at Basil Thyme food truck, I was skeptical. Family recipes? Handmade pasta? I imagined so many ways the food could go wrong, dreading an experience more JWoww than Don Corleone. But given that my most recent lunchtime experience with lasagna was courtesy of Lean Cuisine, I figured any truck chef who gets up before dawn to hand-make pasta deserves my confidence—and a posthumous nod of approval from my dear old grandpa.

Basil Thyme

4.5 Seconds

Basil Thyme gets it 100% right—from the crusty, browned edges of each substantial piece of lasagna to the amazing depth of flavor. The classic Linda claims to be just like Mama’s—and it absolutely delivers. Layers of fresh pasta, perfectly cooked, are lined with a fantastic, flavorful sauce, complete with chunks of tomato, well-seasoned ground beef, and smooth ricotta cheese. I like to pretend this is the meal Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone was planning the day she accidentally died in Fabrizio’s bomb plot gone wrong. Freshly-grated parmesan tops both the pasta and the salad—another wonderful touch. The Lisetta, pork in vodka sauce, is equally flavorful, although I could have done with a little more meat in my portion. The Giuseppe (points off for misspelling it on their menu) is a wonderful combinationof savory and sweet butternut squash, cooked tender but not mushy, and soft, tangy goat cheese—topped with fried basil leaves. And the cannoli—the cannoli! It changes regularly, but the pistachio version I tried was outstanding. It might be the best food truck dessert offered.

Continues after the jump.

Each portion comes with a salad for $9 or in a combo with a drink and a cannoli for $10. Almost as impressive as the lasagnas are the salads that accompany them—high-quality mixed greens tossed in a fantastic vinaigrette, topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives. The salads show the owners of this truck truly understand their audience—diners who appreciate good, high-quality food, and might be foregoing a $30 steak salad at a great restaurant to try out a food truck. You can tell an enormous amount of pride and care goes into making and presenting each order.

So why did I not award Basil Thyme the full five seconds? Unfortunately, their “Catena” dish left a lot to be desired. Advertised as chicken sautéed in a Florentine-style, I found the flavor combination to be somewhat off. I could only find one piece of chicken in my portion, and it tasted like it had come from a can. The spinach in the lasagna was overcooked to the point of being mush and didn’t taste great. The sauce tasted ok on its own, but it was the only option I didn’t completely devour—in fact, I didn’t even finish half—a real disappointment at a food truck that I would otherwise consider to be outstanding. Give it a chance if you prefer chicken, but I’d strongly recommend the other options over this one.

Bottom line: Basil Thyme is the real deal, living up to the authenticity they claim. If you see their bright truck on your next lunch break, here’s my advice: Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

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