The big date is almost here for Benny's Big Time Pizzeria.
The Wilmington restaurant created by star chef and New York Times-bestselling author Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, is set to open Dec. 12.
"We hope that people will come check us out, enjoy it, share with us their thoughts so we can keep improving and make this place a great part of the community," Knight said Friday.
Located in a newly renovated building at 206 Greenfield St. in Wilmington's South Front community, Benny's Big Time Pizzeria will serve a variety of Italian dishes in addition to wood-fired pizzas. In the weeks leading up to the opening, the restaurant's staff has been testing recipes.
"The food is really, really tasty," Knight said. "I'm really happy with the menu and very excited with what we're going to be serving and the staff. We've had training the last several days, and the staff has been loving it. There's a lot of things that will be fun takes on familiar items, but then there's some things that are also kind of traditional Italian that might not be the kinds of dishes that a lot of people have had before but are very approachable and very tasty."
Some examples of menu items Knight shared: garlic knots served with tomato jam and a kind of parmesan fondita; stuffed mushroom manicotti (all the pasta is made in-house) served with a white sauce and a flavorful, bright salad; and "fun takes" on Hawaiian pizza and clam pizza.
"We have a margherita and a pepperoni that will be two pizzas on the featured pizza list because we want to be family friendly in that way," Knight said.
At 14 inches, the restaurant's pizzas are a little larger than many Neapolitan pizzas made in a wood-fired oven, Knight said, so that they're a little bit more shareable by families and groups.
The restaurant's chef is Jim Diecchio, who is from Washington, D.C., and is "well-versed in farm-to-fork cuisine," Knight said. The sous chef for Benny's Big Time Pizzeria, Carson Jewell, previously worked at Wilmington's Rx Restaurant & Bar "so he's very in tune with a lot of the local produce and seafood purveyors, and so we've had a really good start getting in touch with folks and getting good products," Knight added.
The name of the restaurant is a combination of nicknames used for Knight and Howard, with "Big Time" being a moniker bestowed on Howard by her father when she was a child.
The hours for Benny's Big Time Pizzeria are expected to be 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.