Sometimes, it's the simple things that leave lasting memories, and in the case of Gino's Italian Restaurant in Meridian, it's amazing what a little olive oil can be turned into.
It shows up unassuming, poured into a small dish in the center of the table to accompany the hearty, rustic bread served with each meal. But Gino's dipping sauce is far more than something to dunk your bread in: it's an experience on its own.
The olive oil is infused with garlic, basil and other "herbs and spices" to create a layering of flavors that shouldn't emerge from something so small. While the crew at Gino's doesn't give away the full recipe of the dipping sauce, which is one of chef/owner Gino's family recipes, they did say there's a bit of red pepper, which gives the concoction a nice bite.
The eatery was a mainstay of the downtown Boise dining scene for 12 years before it made the move west to Meridian roughly one year ago, but its popularity hasn't waned. And while customers go for the traditional, rustic Italian food cooked to order (this is slow food, so be prepared to relax and enjoy the experience), it's the dipping sauce they often go home with.
In fact, the dipping sauce is so popular, Gino started bottling it and now sells it for $5 per jar. Patrons can now relish the experience whenever it calls.