In a shopping plaza with two Italian restaurants, one of them had to do something different in order to stand out.
So one of them did just that by adding regional Mexican dishes to the menu. Call it Itali-Mex, or Mexitali cuisine, or just call it Benito’s.
Once an all-Italian joint known for its pizza, Benito’s still offers a mostly Italian menu. Pizza comes in five sizes, ranging from 9″ to 18″ (there are pie pans tacked to the wall, to help with size visualization) and toppings are fairly classic, including bacon, sausage, green and banana peppers, spinach, pineapple and olives. But the sausage selection also includes hot Spanish chorizo. That chorizo is used on the specialty Mexican pizza, along with onions, jalapeños and tomatoes. It’s also slipped into a dish called pambazos, where the sausage is served with potatoes.
In addition to pizza, there are calzones, stromboli, pastas, hot and cold subs and salads. But again, the Mexican fare makes its way back on the menu with beef, chicken and chorizo tacos, quesadillas (either meat-filled or mushroom-filled) tacos dorados (tacos filled with chicken and deep-fried), tortas (a hollowed-out, crispy roll filled with beef) and the humorously-named huaraches, which normally brings to mind the classic woven Mexican sandals, but in this case, also refers to the oblong shape of the fried corn masa “plate,” heaped with beef, chicken or chorizo, plus lettuce, tomato and cheese. Think of this as a more interesting cross between a taco and a plate of nachos.
Sundays mean two additional specialties on the menu, and you can only get these on the seventh day: chile rellenos (stuffed, deep-fried poblano peppers) and posole, a soup made with pork, chiles and whole hominy. Stuffing poblanos and slow-cooking hominy isn’t food for every day, and it’s worth the trip to try these.
Benito’s interior is rather tired and worn out; it could use a facelift. All of four tables fit inside, plus three chairs at the counter. You’re definitely not coming here for the ambiance. But for decent Italian food and a small but challenging regional Mexican menu, there’s good motive to make your way to Benito’s.
Benito’s Pizza, 1695 West Indiantown Road (Sims Creek Plaza), Jupiter, FL. Phone (561) 746-6700. Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. Delivery available ($15 minimum) to Jupiter, Jupiter Farms and Tequesta.