Perfectly located in the heart of this quaint seaside suburb, Benito’s has been welcoming patrons for over a decade, no mean feat in the fiercely competitive hospitality industry. We are greeted warmly as we step in from the cool Spring evening and shown to a window table in the tastefully decorated main dining area overlooking Castle Street. The elegant charm of the decor extends to the smooth, jazzy playlist floating through the air and we are immediately at ease and eager to review the fayre on offer.
The a la carte menu includes a selection of homemade pasta dishes as well as lamb, seafood, chicken and beef - which would cater to most tastes and preferences. My partners keen eye spotted Lasagne on the equally impressive Early Bird menu, while I battled to choose just one of the 14 well-designed pizzas, eventually settling on the Sophia Loren (sun-blushed tomatoes, rocket, grana padano and DOP extra virgin olive oil) It is also worth mentioning the wide range of vegetarian and gluten-free options available for those of us with more specialized dietary requirements. A serving of calamari to share and two glasses of the house white (which is excellent by the way) complete our order, and we turn our attention back to the dining room which although busy, is not cramped or overcrowded. The atmosphere is lively yet intimate, with families, couples and friends all sharing the evening in what is certainly one of the more popular neighbourhood / destination restaurants I have visited.
The Salt and Chilli Calamari starter arrived bang on cue, beautifully presented with a smear of lemon aioli. The semolina batter is light and crispy, the squid itself is tender and well-cooked and complimented perfectly by the zesty lemon sauce. The portion size suited us to share, although I would’ve had no problem finishing off the fritti fish by myself! The attentive floor staff could not be more helpful, pausing for a brief chat while replacing our drinks before returning with the main courses and a cheerful smile.
The Sophia Loren looks as good as her name sake, and the tried and tested combination of Mediterranean flavours is brought to the fore through quality ingredients. Delicious. The Lasagne is served piping hot, oozing flavour, aroma and of course...cheese. Another generous helping which would satisfy most appetites, I was in fact surprised to see my partner practically licking the bowl clean! Unfortunately, we were unable to sample the well-stocked wine list on this particular occasion, we did, however, succumb to the allure of custardy Creme Brulee which was the perfect end to our thoroughly enjoyable meal.
The team behind Benito’s have obviously invested a lot of time and effort in their restaurant, and the passion is evident from the moment you enter the doors. The menu is well thought out and executed; the service is excellent, the atmosphere is well-suited to any occasion while the surrounds are somehow both contemporary and traditional. The offering is upmarket yet welcoming and accessible, with great value to be found across the various menus. I look forward to visiting Benito's again soon and will certainly be recommending a Sophia Loren to any friends and family for the foreseeable future!