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Assistant General Manager, Michael Ciresi

Assistant General Manager, Michael Ciresi

Michael, a Cranston native and graduate of Cranston High School West + CACTC culinary arts program, excelled and was awarded the City of Cranston Mayoral award of 2008. He began his journey with TGIFRiDAY'S, and stayed with the company for ten years, which set the course for his development working various roles throughout the company. While working, he attended college at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI and graduated with his degree in Culinary Arts along with a BS in Food & Beverage Management.

The importance of a good education was instilled in him by his Mother, a Cranston public school teacher, and his grandparents. His family all still reside in Rhode Island, mostly concentrated in Cranston. He looks forward to teaching his niece and nephew how to cook and bake.

He has worked in a few well known restaurants in big cities including Providence, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Baltimore, while networking and learning the trade. He took a particular interest in mixology, and pairing food with great wines, beers, and cocktails. He stays ahead of industry trends and challenges himself to create spectacular cocktails while educating his staff on great wine varietals and craft beers.

Being of Italian heritage he naturally found his niche in Italian comfort food. He often reminisces about his childhood, shaping the meatballs with his grandmother, flouring eggplant, and rolling out the pasta while making a flavorful gravy. The classic "Italian Sunday Dinner" is something he talks about from time to time; with the amazing spread that was always put out - everyone leaves full, and a pants size bigger. He looks forward to growing with the Basta family, while becoming more involved with the community.

He invites you all to come in and join him for a memorable experience and meal.

Executive Sous Chef, Bridget Sullivan

Executive Sous Chef, Bridget Sullivan

Bridget was born and raised in Rhode Island. She grew up in a large family where the first question of the day was routinely, “What’s for dinner?” She baked almost daily as a child and constantly shared her enthusiasm for making and enjoying food with loved ones. She never imagined this would turn into a career until, well, it did.

Upholding the food-centric life she had always known, she decided one day that her skills and characteristics were best suited for the kitchen and she dove in head-first. She has since had the pleasure of working with skilled chefs and selfless mentors, like Chefs Tino Franco and Niko Vafides, that have taught her how to delve deeper into her love of cooking.

Bridget is especially excited to be part of a team that cares deeply about authentic Italian cuisine, as any Rhode Islander would be. Creating delicious food in a place she loves, she is truly at home. 

Executive Chef, Nikolas Vafides

Executive Chef, Nikolas Vafides

Chef Niko began his culinary career quite accidentally. His sister helped him to land a summer job making salads in the Italian restaurant in which she worked, and Niko was hooked instantly! Upon returning to his home in New Orleans, Niko worked his way up in various kitchens throughout the southern city absorbing every detail about food and cooking along the way. In search of further growth in the culinary field, Niko made his way north to the Boston suburbs. Four years in that area left him hungry for even more knowledge, and that hunger led him to Rhode Island.

Niko came on board as the sous chef here at Basta and quickly proved himself to be an asset as he honed his skills in Italian cuisine. He has embraced not just the food, but the Italian culture that is reflected in his menu development. Now, as he takes the helm as Executive Chef of Basta, Chef Niko is eager to create memorable experiences for his teammates, as well as for all of our guests. 

President, Alexander Guarino

President, Alexander Guarino

Born in Italy, raised in Rhode Island, and his mother's stove-side assistant growing up, Alexander has a long-term relationship with delicious Italian cuisine. It was during his college years at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles however that Alexander became professionally involved with food preparation and service for the first time. Studying advertising and marketing by day and working among Sicilian chefs and pizzaioli during the evenings and weekends (Pinocchio in Cucina, Pacific Palisades, CA), Alexander developed a love for the passion and creativity that goes into providing a truly exceptional meal.

After spending several years in the advertising industry following college, today Alexander works with his father and mentor Ken, assisting in the management of several family businesses and investments while developing new projects. When it was determined that Basta was due for a full scale renovation and restructuring, Alexander took a lead role in top-level project management, rebranding and creative control in his position as President of the Night Owl Restaurant Group, Basta's parent company.

Alexander is absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity because of the sentimental feelings he has for the restaurant and the memories he has shared there since his parents originally opened Basta's doors over 23 years ago. With a nod to the past and an eye to the future, Alexander and the Basta Team plan to make Basta a classic all over again.