A relative newcomer on Rockford’s dining scene, this cozy and contemporary spot is gaining attention for its inspired cuisine and its owner’s deep attention to detail.
In its third year, Baci’s Kitchen, 2990 N. Perryville Road, is evidence of what happens when hard work, innate talent and a drive to succeed come together in a great location.
Step inside Baci’s – pronounced “ba-ch-ee-s,” which means “kiss” in Italian – and you’ll experience a clean, open, contemporary setting with lots of natural lighting. Located in the Perryville Place building, the restaurant has a parking lot entrance off of Old Creek Road.
There, you’ll meet owner Nikko Castrogiovanni, who credits his experience in Las Vegas restaurants and his father, Nick, for helping him to discover his passion while honing his skills.
“I just fell in love with working in the kitchen and being creative,” Castrogiovanni says. “This business is in my blood and I have a drive to keep making Baci’s better and better.”
Before opening Baci’s, Castrogiovanni worked with his dad, who has since retired, at Ciao Bello in Rockford for five years. Nick’s personable interactions with customers, laser-focused attention to the details of running a business, and ability to make everyone feel like family, influenced his son.
Castrogiovanni created or inspired every item on Baci’s menu, but he also loves preparing dishes “off the menu” by offering daily and weekly specials. The NY Strip Steak was a recent weekly special that proved popular with customers, featuring a 14 oz. strip steak topped with garlic herb butter and served with a choice of mostaccioli or mashed potatoes and gravy.
Customers used to order at the counter, but for the past two years, Baci’s has served diners with a wait staff. The restaurant is known for its unique breakfast items such as breakfast pizzas and breakfast bowls. There’s also a breakfast burrito and choices to “make your own omelet.”
Later in the day, people can look forward to the daily $10 small pizza, 10 oz. burgers, kid’s menu, gourmet mac and cheese, and affordable entrees, from $15 to $23. The American fare includes sandwiches, soup, paninis, wraps, pasta, pizza and appetizers. An outdoor patio seats 70, weather permitting.
Entrees include the popular Baci Salmon, made with a pan-seared salmon filet, topped with sautéed radishes, carrots, tomatoes and orange slices, and served with a side of coconut rice. The Baci’s Chicken Parmesan is a lightly breaded chicken breast stuffed with ricotta and spinach, topped with marinara and fresh mozzarella, and served with spaghetti.
Protein bowls are made with chicken, salmon, steak, tuna, shrimp, or vegetables and include rice, quinoa, vegetables and homemade salad dressing or sauce.
A new beer and wine list recently made its debut, and more booths were added to the dining area. The bar area also recently gained more hi-top tables, and a few slot machines were tucked away in one corner.
Future plans for the restaurant include more entrees to choose from and the installation of a see-through wall to separate the bar from the dining room. Though Baci’s already does carry out with DoorDash food deliveries, Castrogiovanni plans to expand this side of the business.
Baci’s gives a 20 percent discount to all Rock Valley College students and staff. Other daily and weekly discounts, specials and coupons are available at baciskitchen.com. Live music is from 6 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, featuring popular artists such as Vince Chiarelli Band, Trinadora, That Gurl and Pistol Pete.
Baci’s Kitchen opens every day at 8 a.m. It closes on Sundays at 8 p.m.; on Mon.-Wed. at 9 p.m.; and Thurs.-Sat. at 10 p.m. Walk-in diners are welcome, but reservations are encouraged by calling (815) 329-6922. Visit baciskitchen.com to see the menu, specials, coupons, events and music lineup, or to order carry out.