Basil’s brings Italian fare to Washington

Christina Smith
Joshua Rosenberg, 31, executive chef at Basil’s in Washington, prepares to make a sausage pizza Friday afternoon. Rosenberg said he has worked with the restaurant’s owner, Salvatore Traina in Galesburg and moved to the area to work at Traina’s newest restaurant. Paulette Greenwood, 37, also manages and co-owns Basil’s with Rosenberg and Traina.

“Quite a few people don’t know we are here,” Joshua Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg was speaking about Basil’s, a relatively new Italian restaurant on the square.

Owner and chef Salvatore Traina, 42, opened Basil’s in the former Brick Oven location at 110 N. Main St. in November.

“I decided to lease the building because of its location, the opportunity, and it was already ready to go,” Traina said.

“There is nothing around here serving the quality of food we offer,” Traina said, adding all of the restaurant’s sauces are handmade.  

Traina, who grew up in Sicily, graduated from the La Cordon Bleu program at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.

Pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, pasta, salads and European desserts, such as spumoni, tiramisu and crème brulee, are a few of the items served at the restaurant.

The restaurant also offers appetizers, such as, but not limited to, garlic cheese bread and stuffed Portobello mushrooms.

Open from 11 a .m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Basil’s serves lunch until 4 p.m., which is when dinner hours begin.

A children’s menu for ages 12 and under is also available.

Although Traina started the new restaurant, he is not the only owner or chef.

Business partners

About six years ago, Rosenberg, 31, worked for Traina at his restaurant, La Dolce Vita, in Galesburg.

“I started washing dishes and worked my way up,” Rosenberg said. “I have worked with Traina at five different restaurants.”

Rosenberg is the executive chef and a co-owner of Basil’s.

“What I do here, I learned from Traina and John Palmgren, another chef at Basil’s who has also worked with Traina at his other restaurants,” Rosenberg said.

Every morning, Rosenberg makes soup from scratch and decides the special for the day.

Rosenberg said the brick oven in the restaurant is only used for pizzas and calzones, while everything else is prepared in one of two other ovens.

Paulette Greenwood, 37, said she came into the restaurant to work as a server and Traina offered her the chance to be the general manager and another co-owner.

Greenwood said she has done every aspect of the food business except cooking.

“It’s different all of the time and you get to meet all types of people,” Greenwood said about the restaurant business.

“I love meeting people and making them happy.”

Future changes

Rosenberg said a new menu with additional items for both the adult and children’s menu will be added in about a month.

“We are known for the portions of food,” Greenwood said. “Everything comes out on a platter.”

Greenwood said they plan to offer catering services for evening parties at the restaurant.

Replacing the sign above the awning, in front of the building, will also be done in the next few months, to let residents know where Basil’s is located.

“Quite a few people don’t know we are here, but business has been getting better with the nicer weather,” Rosenberg said.

Greenwood said she should receive approval for the restaurant’s liquor license April 7.

“We are putting a wine list together now and will also have Italian beers on the list,” Greenwood said, adding the signature wines offered are not available at stores.

During the week, Rosenberg said lunch is the restaurant’s busiest time, while dinner is busier on the weekend.

Reservations are recommended for larger groups, but are not required.

For more information, call the restaurant at 444-5900.