Locals can get a taste of Italy at a newly opened Italian restaurant, La Gondola, in Killeen.
Originally from Fontanelle, Italy, the Basso’s are providing homemade Italian cuisine to the local area.
La Gondola officially opened its doors Sept. 19.
The restaurant, formerly the Pizza Palace, is at 515 W. Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Killeen.
“I graduated from Killeen High School in 1975 and the Pizza Palace was here since I was in high school,” said Kathy Clark Jones. “I am friends with the new owners of the building and am happy that they were able to revitalize this place.”
Clark Jones met the Bassos when they visited Killeen in 2013.
After the Bassos visited Killeen in 2013, they decided to move to the area permanently in August of 2015.
“We moved her because when we visited we liked the hospitality of the state and the people,” said Natascia Basso, one of the owners of Italian Cuisine and La Gondola. “We felt we could bring an authentic taste of Italy to Killeen.”
Shortly after relocating to Killeen, the Bassos opened their first restaurant in Killeen, Italian Cuisine.
“In two years they have been able to open two businesses so that says a lot about their success,” Clark Jones said. “They have a great customer base and their customers love them.”
Customers aren’t the only ones who enjoy the Basso family.
“They are great bosses and great people,” said Jennifer Webb, a waitress at Italian Cuisine and La Gondola. “They are easy to work for and allow me to take a break to pick up my son after school and take him where he needs to go.”
Webb is a single parent.
“Overall, they are flexible with my schedule,” Webb said. “If I need time off to go take care of my son, they are accommodating”
Webb has worked with the Basso family since they first opened Italian Cuisine a little over two years ago.
Since the Bassos arrival to Killeen, they have been diligent in learning the English language.
“English is a work in progress,” said Gordon Basso, one of the owners of Italian Cuisine and La Gondola. “We have picked it up more by interacting with customers and other people.”
For Kevin Basso, son of Gordon and Natascia, he was introduced to English in high school after relocating to Killeen.
“I took English as a second language course and learned how to speak English.” Kevin Basso said.
Kevin, who graduated from Shoemaker High School in Killeen, works side-by-side with his parents in both restaurants.
“I went to school for cooking during ninth and 10th grade in Italy,” Kevin said. “It was different when I moved here, but I was excited to start a new adventure with my parents.”
Kevin said he grew up watching his parents cook and he was passionate about it.
“My favorite dish growing up was lasagna,” Kevin said. “Now, I make pasta at both restaurants and help in the kitchen.”
Kevin’s family brought his love of Italian cuisine to Texas.
“Almost all recipes come from either side of the family,” Gordon said. “We have a lot of good memories with family around the kitchen. We learned a lot of secret family recipes that we use in the restaurant today.”
One of the recommended items on the menu is the “Panna e.funghi,” which is made with cream and mushrooms.
“We recommend this dish because everybody wants Alfredo sauce but this is not real Italian,” Natascia said. “It’s more American-Italian. We don’t have Alfredo in Italy, so we recommend Panna e funghi and the people like better than Alfredo.”
Another popular dish is spaghetti and meatballs.
“In Italy, we have spaghetti, but we normally do not have it often,” Gordon said. “When we opened here, everybody tried to order it so we put it on the menu.”
“Everyone appreciates the home cooked food,” Webb said. “I want everyone to come out and give them a try. It is really good food.”
La Gondola is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
For more information, visit, www.lagondola.us.