Not only do I absolutely love Italian food, but I am also a huge sucker for deli that can provide me with excellent sandwiches as well as terrific hot plates. Sitting between the College Point and Malba areas of Queens, Benateri’s is a great fit for me in that it hits both of my sweet spots and it’s located very close to my workplace. If not for some inconsistencies in service and pricing, Benateri’s would be a slam dunk must have for lunch any time you’re in the area.
Benateri’s is a typical Italian deli through and through, there isn’t much seating but there is a lot behind the counter to choose from on a day to day basis. If you get there at the wrong time, the line can be out the door, backed up with people looking to figure out what they should order and those waiting for their food. There are a couple of tables stacked up opposite the counter, but those are usually empty as Benny’s is primarily a take out location. Drinks are at the back along with other items like chips or candy. Rest assured this is more restaurant than candy store. The food is laid out in hot plates built into the counter, the sandwiches are made to order unless it’s a daily special.
The menu at Benateri’s is, in total, massive. The combination of all the different sandwiches (hot and cold), salads, and the daily specials make finally deciding on something a very difficult task since you don’t want to miss out on anything. The daily specials are actually the stars of the show. They are the hot plates on display behind the plexiglass. Thursday is what I consider to be the best day with the fantastic Chicken Bruschetta, Ragin’ Cajun, BBQ Brisket Hero and Juanito’s Burrito – all of them awesome. It’s unfortunate they are all on the same day!
As I have been there often and I have a couple of favorites. The above mentioned Chicken Bruschetta became a Thursday ritual for me at one point with the baked ziti on the side and extra sauce on top. The chicken is freshly made in the back room kitchen, heck you can see them making the platter through the door from the counter. I cannot rave enough about the chicken bruschetta itself. The ziti, while good, can be a little dry depending on when the platter is set out there. I am not a huge fan of the home made pasta sauce at Benny’s but I don’t want to take the risk of overly dried baked ziti. The Stuffed Peppers are a Tuesday special, they are excellent as well. You get two stuffed green peppers with your choice of side, I again go with the ziti. I’m also a huge fan of their sandwiches featuring Italian cured meats. The Abondanza is my fave, check this out – salami, prosciutto, capricola, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomatoes, and red wine vinegar…. it has my mouth watering just typing this out.
The food is good, rest assured, it’s just the service that is schizophrenic. Maybe it depends on the time of day or something but there have been times when I step into Benny’s and it’s a very friendly place with great behind the counter assistance and the man, Benny himself being great at the register. Other times everyone is cold as can be. If there isn’t a whole lot of love in Italian food, it just won’t be as good. Worse though is the inconsistency in the pricing. There have been times where I have gone in, for example, for Chicken Bruschetta. You can see the price clear as day is $8.75, I always get it with the ziti but sometimes the price with no drink comes out to $11.75, others it’s $9.50. It’s confusing and a little annoying, almost as if Benny is just throwing a price out there without knowing either exactly what I’m getting (I always repeat back what it is, maybe he doesn’t trust me) or just a price off the cuff. Don’t carry exact or close to exact change is my point.
All told though, Benateri’s is a must if you’re in the College Point area of Queens. The quality and variety of food is great, it has kept me coming back even with the sometimes crappy attitudes or math skills where I would normally have cut off an eatery, and the score reflects it. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Have you eaten at Benateri’s? If so, do you agree or disagree with what I said? Let me know, leave a comment!
Benateri’s Review reviewed by Well Fed on November 24, 2014 rated 4.0 of 5