In a large saucepan, drizzle olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden.
Add the crushed garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stir in the ground beef, crushing it into small pieces with a spoon. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, until browned.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes and the water. Season with additional salt if needed. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour to blend the flavors.
Stir in the basil and remove from heat. Set aside about 1/2 cup (118 milliliters) of the sauce to use for dipping if desired.