Zagat top-rated Italian restaurant Gaetano’s in Forest Park is about to open a new location in suburban Batavia, where the owner and his family now live, said co-owner Wendy DiBenedetto. But that doesn’t mean the guitar-playing chef will be neglecting his signature restaurant, his wife said.
“Gaetano’s dedication to his Forest Park patrons is very sincere,” she said. “He will be in Forest Park, especially on the weekends. He has a loyalty to our patrons in Forest Park and they are used to him being there.
“Obviously when you’re starting a new business you need to be there to make sure everything’s going smoothly in the kitchen,” she added.
The new location, at the northwest corner of Wilson and River Streets, is in a section of Batavia that was recently given a streetscape facelift, she said. A trusted chef and servers have already been hired.
The new spot will be slightly smaller than the Forest Park location with seating for 40 in the main restaurant and overflow for 30 diners in the basement. The Forest Park location at 7636 Madison St. seats 68 in the front and 30 in the rear, she said. The Batavia location will have outdoor seating.
The Batavia restaurant will be run by her own company, Table 27. The DiBenedettos have applied for development grants from the municipality of Batavia and loans to install a commercial-style kitchen with appropriate gas lines and a commercial “suppression hood” over the stove, she said, noting that driving between the two locations is never more than a half-hour during off-peak traffic times.
Wendy, who grew up in Oak Park, said her blended family’s two high school students had been attending private high school while they lived in Forest Park, but she wanted to give them the chance to attend one of the highly rated Batavia high schools. The family transplanted in 2012.
“I have family connections out there. We used to visit a lot in the summer.”
The menu at the Batavia location will be the same, Italian fusion, as the Forest Park restaurant. It will also feature the eatery’s “tasting menus” where chef Gaetano prepares a creative, one-of-a kind meal for diners as they sit at the chef’s bar.
Wendy, who will work at the restaurant full time, said the pair hopes to recreate the Moroccan-style décor of the Forest Park location.
“We want it to be like you’re in a totally different place when you come in the restaurant.”
The pair met when she took a restaurant job to augment her real estate career after the economic crash. They married in 2009.
“I used to take my real estate clients to Gaetano’s former restaurant, La Piazza, after their closing,” she said. “I loved it and they loved it.”