Bene Italiano is one of the Franklin Park area’s newest restaurants, and it’s already making a big impression. A recent Sunday night saw a steady stream of customers, all of whom— including a walk-in party of 12— were easily accommodated thanks to the ample dining room and plenty of wait staff at the ready. The casual atmosphere with roomy booths and tables lends itself to groups big and small, and a dedicated carry-out counter with its own entrance makes picking up a pizza after work quick and easy.
Teresa Incorvaia, co-owner, manager and force-of-nature, said she shopped around for locations, but knew when she walked into the Market Place Shops’ space, once occupied by a Chinese buffet, that this was the right place. “I knew automatically,” she said. “I just had a vision of what I could make the place into.”
Along with 30 family members, she showed up every weekend to make the space into a warm and welcoming place for great Italian food, including sandwiches, hearty salads and delicious homemade desserts.
You’ll need a box
While my two friends and I were seated immediately, we had to apologetically wave-off our server more than once while we deliberated over our orders. I chose relatively quickly because once my eyes fell upon manicotti, my search was over. It’s a dish I’ve always liked but don’t always find in restaurants, probably due to the rather labor-intensive process of making it the old-fashioned way. My friend Jim ultimately decided on spaghetti with meat sauce and a meatball, while his wife, Laura, chose a meat-lovers pizza on a gluten-free cauliflower crust. The pasta dishes came with bread and a salad, with dressing on the side. Try the house dressing, a red-wine vinaigrette. You won’t be sorry.
Incorvaia’s offers a selection of appetizers but it was a good thing we hadn’t ordered any because the ample servings ensured leftovers for all three of us. My manicotti was indeed baked, and smothered in Keith Incorvaia’s house-made marinara sauce, the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. It also came with an unexpected side of spaghetti. “Everything comes with spaghetti,” Teresa Incorvaia told me as she buzzed by our table. “It’s an Italian thing.” It was an Italian thing that made a great lunch the next day.
Jim was impressed with his flavorful meat sauce, and Laura, a gluten-free connoisseur by necessity, enjoyed her pizza’s thin crust and generous toppings.
I don’t get dessert very often, but I couldn’t resist Incorvaia’s homemade German chocolate cake, and I wasn’t disappointed. For me, the real draw of German chocolate cake is the coconut and pecan frosting, so if the cake is a little dry it gets a pass. At Incorvaia’s, however, the very dark chocolate cake is so moist it’s a treat in itself. Jim also got dessert; we had agreed to share tastes with each other, and it almost worked. I passed him a sliver of the yummy cake while he tried his cannoli and assured us it was delicious. A few minutes later I heard “oops…” It was so good he forgot to share.
A new legacy
Bene Italiano is a silver lining for Teresa and Keith Incorvaia. Keith and his brother, Chris, had cooked together for 40 years, but family differences late last year left them without a place to do it.
“This is all my husband and my brother-in-law knew how to do,” Teresa said. “So I decided we were going to start another restaurant.”
In addition to the dining room, Incorvaia’s has a banquet room for on-site catering that seats 110, and will soon add Grub Hub delivery to the restaurant’s services.
Bene Italiano | 4751 Monroe St.
Open Tuesday through Thursday 11am-9:30pm;
Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm;
Sunday 1-7:30pm; closed Monday
419-407-5776 | beneitaliano.com