RARITAN, NJ – It’s been just over a year since Hillsborough couple Joe Trani and Kari LaSpisa brought their authentic and delicious Italian cuisine to Raritan with their restaurant Basilico.
“Honestly, it’s been better than we could have imagined,” LaSpisa said of their first year in business.
LaSpisa will celebrate its first anniversary on June 1 at 46 W Somerset St. in Raritan.
“We thought this city could tick all the boxes for us,” LaSpisa said. “It’s a small walkable town, on the main street. It was close to our home and our space is small and intimate, which gives Joey the ability to cook the kind of food he wants to cook.”
Trani – from the island of Ischia located off the coast of Naples, Italy – cooks with her heart. His dishes are authentic and mostly derived from the roots of his hometown of Ischia with some American-Italian influence.
“We’re really happy that people are accepting that his menu is unique and that they’re open to trying a different type of Italian cuisine,” LaSpisa said. “It’s gratifying to have people say they’ve never had this or tried something like this.”
The menu rotates with the seasons while retaining some of the staples such as the Ai Funghi made with fresh mafalde pasta, marsala cream sauce, crumbled sausage, mushrooms, burrata and parmigiano Reggiano.
For example, they took out their Ragu with Stew Meat in the spring and added Ischia made with rigatoni, jumbo prawns, zucchini and cherry tomato sauce.
Trani will soon launch its summer menu which will offer different bruschettas including a Pistachio Toast.
The menu also offers weekend specials mostly such as fried zucchini flowers.
LaSpisa says they have no plans to expand or find a bigger space because it would “really change the way we do things.”
Trani is the sole chef and cooks each dish as ordered.
“If we get bigger, we won’t have the ability to maintain that level of quality, where you can just have every dish prepared just for you,” LaSpisa said. “If you want Joey to cook your food, we have to keep it small…That’s it. We’re a one-man show.”
Basilico made an addition with their outlet.
“We now sell a lot of the products that we use, like our balsamic glaze, olive oil, cream dessert spread,” LaSpisa said.
Limited outdoor dining has also reopened for the season.
Basilico is open Tuesday through Thursday for dinner only, and lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday.
They also offer pickup and delivery through Grubhub.
“We’re very pleased with how the first year has gone,” LaSpisa said. We’re just going to follow what we do.”