I am actually a little envious of their date and wish not to be excluded, as I have recently become hooked on their food. Jason White, a co-owner of Benvenuti along with Vincent Spera, gives me a foodie tour of what’s and fresh out of the kitchen each week. I was instantly addicted to their grilled long-stem artichokes. They are lightly charred and just the right touch of smoky. On my last trip I bought out the rest of the platter, not wanting to share.
They have a snazzy display of prepared salads, veggies, appetizers and sides that tantalizes you while you wait for your order. They serve a fabulous bowl of chicken soup in a ceramic handled crock. I’ve dined on the Chicken Francese and Chicken Parmigiana over pasta with their homemade Marinara. At $6.99 on a Thursday night after 4pm, it feeds my two kids easily.
There is also a large selection of packaged and prepared goodies. This is where I blow my margins from the money I am saving on the dinner specials. Italian cocoa star-shaped cookies are way too precious to bypass, as are dried pastas in every possible shape and size.
There are wraps, paninis, sandwiches, etc. The fridge holds their homemade Marinara and Vodka sauces, in addition to soups, hand-rolled Mozzarella made on-site and chicken and eggplant entrees that are ready to grab and go. There are also the long, pinwheel sausages in pork and chicken with various herbs and cheeses. The freezer holds an even greater bounty of frozen pastas, like cavatelli, meat tortellini, whole wheat linguini, and pumpkin ravioli.
Oh yeah, and they also have pizza! I almost forget about the pizza, because I get so distracted by the store, food, and freezer. But they have a gorgeous brick oven where they churn out pizzas made to order. Benvenuti claims to have recreated Sicilian pizza with their gourmet brick-oven thin-crust Sicilian pie. The June issue of Hometown Quarterly shows a gorgous photo of their Tomato and Black Olive Pie and includes coupons for a free pie & half-off discounts for their Sicilian Pies.
Or try something light, like the artichoke roll. Finish your meal off with some fresh cannoli and for a few seconds you will forget all your worries. You could be in Sicily, or Tuscany, or even Brooklyn. But you are only 2 miles from your house, so if you choose not to dine over red & white checkerboard or at an outdoor table, you can bring the best of Italy right to your own kitchen table.
Last week as I dined with my daughter and enjoyed a crock of soup, another young family sat next to us. It was Jason’s wife Jessica and their 2 kids, Avery and Zack. I didn’t need the vodka sauce, but she made it sound so good I had to toss it in my basket. Some boys and their fathers trudged in to pick up dinner after baseball on Gumpert Field. A true mom & pop shop, Benvenuti is a real treat to have so close to home.
|Jason White and his daughter Avery|
The Daddy Daughter Date Night is Wednesday June 20th from 5-9pm at Benvenuti Italian Specialties & Catering, 512 North Avenue, Garwood NJ 908-389-9999 / www.benvenuticatering.com. Dinner includes a drink, appetizer, entrée & dessert for $30 per couple and $10 each additional daughter. Each Daughter will recieve a rose & each table will have a picture to take home. Due to limited seating this is a reservations-only event. Please email reservations to Jason@benvenuticatering.com.