Birravino - Red Bank, NJ
Formerly Basil T's, Birravino has reinvented itself within Red Bank in the last two years. The switch was made in 2014 and to be honest, it's better now than it was before. Sure, some of the items might look similar to patrons visiting Basil T's back in the day, but I can assure you that food-wise and now beer-wise, Birravino is absolutely knocking it out of the park.
I've come here a lot more lately, drawn in by the delicious pizzas and servings of pasta but stayed for the beer. Yes, folks, in the past year, Birravino has stepped up the "birra" portion of their name and have matched a drinking experience that rivals their food and their wine selection. If you want brewery quality beer with superb restaurant eating, look no further than one of the few places in Red Bank with parking.
I really can't say that I know much about wine, but I do know that Birravino has quite the wide selections of wine by the glass and the bottle for you to pair with any of your culinary desires. This particular wine, the Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella 2012 was a nice dry, red wine that is smooth with a nice cherry presence to it. It's a good bottle to enjoy with a bolder pasta dish that doesn't swing towards the sweeter side.
The beers at Birravino need to be had. The taps change consistently as brewer, Travis Coatney likes to continue to experiment and innovate with the brews that can go along with the food at this restaurant. The craft beer here is brewery level. Yes, I understand that the beer is brewed here, so it is technically a "brewery". What I'm trying to convey is that a lot of restaurants will brew their own beers, yet the main feature is the food. I can honestly say that Birravino has the best combination of self-made brews and food that I've had in New Jersey. If Birravino were just a brewery, it'd be one of my favorites in New Jersey.
So why not break down some of the beers I did have:
- Nuovo: German Pilsener with Citra Hops. First thing that came to mind was that this beer was very well-balanced. It's light, refreshing with just the right touch of hops. This beer is the perfect beer for a hot summer day and goes well with almost anything on the menu.
- Etna: The amber ale. This one was pretty decent. It's a good companion to some of the foods here at Birravino. You can get a lot that maltiness that goes well with some of the lighter dishes. It's a solid representation of an amber ale but nothing too adventurous.
- Favo: Farmhouse ale with honey. This one was excellent. It's light on the funk that makes a farmhouse ale what it is which means that it is easily drinkable and very approachable to someone who has never had a farmhouse ale before. I really enjoyed this one and would have more of it.
- Vulsini: American Pale Ale. I enjoyed this one even if it seems to be more geared towards the casual drinker. It's very nicely balanced and more of a standard showing of what a pale ale is. It's light on the malt, so it lets the flavors from the hop come out. It could have used a bit of an extra oomph for me, but I understand the construction of this beer and honestly, wouldn't have really changed it much.
- Copia: Imperial IPA. The reason why I wouldn't tweak much on the Vulsini is because the Copia exists. If you want hop forward, juicy, citrusy beer, look no forward than the Copia. The fact that no one is talking about this beer makes me both sad and jealous. I am extremely happy to see Travis Coatney's expertise shine through with this beer. He's already made two variations of it and both have been nothing short of excellence. If this beer were in cans, I'd be buying it up. The nose on this beer is amazing and anything that can expose Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo to this degree for a restaurant is worthy of praise.
Despite what the picture shows, there is Italian sausage right behind the chicken breast, I promise. The escarole is on point and the sausage is so good and yet it takes nothing away from the bone in chicken breast. The vegetables are delicious, while the red wine vinegar brings this altogether beautifully. I’ll be honest and say that my expectations weren’t too high on this but the bartenders definitely had me sold upon highly recommending it. I would order this again. The combination of a chicken breast and sausage might not look to be the best on paper to some, but here, it makes sense.
The chunks of Italian sausage are massive, and delicious. The veggies on top of the pizza are excellent. I have to say, I really enjoy both the sauce and the crust as well as the mozzarella that ties everything together. I don’t usually tire from ordering this particular pie, especially when I am ordering a fresh batch of Copia to go along with it. If you're looking for a beer that’s a little lighter – you can’t go wrong with the Nuovo Pils. The Salsiccia E Peperoni has 6 giant slices that you and at least another person can easily gobble up while having your favorite wine or beer.
I really do enjoy Birravino. The fact that it has parking in Red Bank is a major plus. The dining room environment is charming and cozy, providing a rustic, Italian vibe that will surely set the mood for any date night, yet comfortable enough for a family night out. I enjoy sitting at the bar where the attentive bartenders are ready to always dish out a new, fresh beer or glass of wine.
I do think Birravino is being ridiculously overlooked as a beer destination. The beer here is exceptional. The Copia and the Nuovo Pils are both incredible. If those two were canned, I’d snag them up. Travis Coatney has done a hell of a job of getting the beer at Birravino at an upper echelon of quality, surpassing the bar set by even the best of brewpubs in New Jeresey. I can’t wait to see what other new styles he’ll brew here.
Whether you get a flight of four, or you have a pint, or you just grab a glass of wine, I’m sure the drinking experience will not disappoint most people. But I’ll say this again, craft beer drinkers, make it a point to visit here and have a few, it’s delicious. The food has always been superb with every visit and I’m always looking forward to try something new here. Cheers and mangia!