Stranded Italians Open up Shop in Antigua
This restaurant was born after a storm grounded one fateful sailboat in the Caribbean.
Basilico Antigua exploded off the screen of Trip Advisor when I searched for an Italian restaurant on the sunny island of Antigua. Antigua is one of the two major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua & Barbuda. Luckily the restaurant was within walking distance of the hotel I stayed at. What a score! I soon found that Basilico had both superbly delicious Italian food and an inspiring backstory to boot.
In the last two days of my visit on the island, I managed to dine there twice. The first visit had me lusting for pizza, as I’d been missing my regular dosage while traveling. I ordered what the waiter suggested - a mushroom, ham, and cheese blend pizza. The ham was wonderfully moist and the cheese mixture included brie cheese! I’m salivating as I type with the memory.
On the second visit I met the general manager Erika Storelli, the daughter of one of the two owners. The Gavi wine flowed, crisp and cool. I heard a bit of Erika’s story. Six years ago her and her husband left from their native Italy to sail the world. Cruising in the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma struck. They were lucky to make it out with their boat, as not everybody did. But the boat was damaged and had them grounded for a month on Saint Martin. The couple remembered a restaurant for sale they had seen when visiting Antigua and repaired their boat enough to limp back to the paradise island and open their own truly authentic Italian restaurant.
A bit more Gavi, and then Erika suggested that I try the Star Gourmet Pizza. Each slice of this heavenly delight had a different flavor: four cheese, margherita, vegetables, diavola (spicy), and ham & mushroom. I need to admit that I crushed the entire pie. It took a bit of time, but I did mention that the Gavi flowed and lubricated the event quite well?
"How do you create and maintain such exceptional quality," I asked. She replied, “We wave the Italian flag high, staying true to original regional recipes from Napoli, Puglia, Piemonte, with the most influential being Emilia Romagna.” With a broad smile and noticeable pride, Erika concluded, “and of course the secret ingredient is always love.” If you get a chance to visit Antigua, Basilico Antigua is perched on the water in the resort village of Jolly Harbour.
P.S. My favorite Trench Marketing take-away was when I was handed the wine cork from my bottle with the date inscribed on it and a ribbon attached to it with the restaurant’s business card. Thoughtful, sincere, personalized, inexpensive, and authentic. Perfect!
Rudy Waldner is a traveling speaker, reporter and author of Marketing from the Trenches.