Monday, July 4, 2022

Vivian Howard restaurant Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria opens this week

 

The twin pizza ovens at Benny's Big Time Pizzeria. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
The twin pizza ovens at Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

WILMINGTON — Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, Vivian Howard’s first restaurant in the Wilmington area, will open this week. The restaurant is anchoring the rapidly developing “warehouse district” on South Front Street.

The restaurant, owned by Howard and her husband and business partner Ben Knight, is a chance for the couple to fully embrace their love of pizza.

“I wanted two things when I was a kid,” Knight said. “A hot dog place and a pizza place.”

Knight added that the couple’s Kinston restaurant Chef & the Farmer has served pizza for years, but Benny’s Big Time gave them a chance to go all in. According to Knight, Howard has been spending time in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on dishes, focusing on Italian recipes Howard has flirted with at her other restaurants but never fully explored.

The kitchen is built around two pizza ovens, and the restaurant features eight specialty pies. The 14-inch Neapolitan style pizzas range from the classic Margherita to the more adventurous “Kevin McCallister” – the “Home Alone” namesake made with funky-smelling Grayson cheese and hot honey – and the playfully named “Talk’in Shiitake.”

Benny's Big Time will offer eight specialty pizzas. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
Benny’s Big Time will offer eight specialty pizzas. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

Then there’s the “Guilty Pleasure,” a favorite of General Manager Andrew Sutton. The pizza is an upscale take on Hawaiian pizza, served with chili and mint, and speck – smoked pork belly – standing in for ham. Sutton’s guilty pleasure may or may not settle the numerous arguments over the legitimacy of the putting pineapple on pizza.

While the menu has plenty of classics – Rigatoni and a southern-fried take on chicken parmigiana – Sutton said he hopes customer branch out.

Antipasto? Check. Fried stuff? Yup.
Antipasto? Check. Fried stuff? Yup. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

“I really hope people try the olives — no one ever gets them but they’re so good, they’re marinated and served warm,” Sutton said. “But the real surprise hit with our tastings have been the sardines.”

Part appetizer, part miniature cooking lesson, the sardines are de-boned tableside, according to Sutton.

“If you’re never deboned a sardine, we’ll show you how, it’s kind of fascinating,” Sutton said.

The interior has come a long way from the abandoned warehouse it once was. At the counter, Andrew Sutton and Ben Knight compare notes. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
The interior has come a long way from the abandoned warehouse it once was. At the counter, Andrew Sutton and Ben Knight compare notes. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

Benny’s Big Time opens Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 4 p.m.

“We put ‘Fall 2017’ on those signs outside, and – well – we actually pulled it off, because we still have about a week left,” Knight said.

The restaurant hours will be:

  • Monday: closed
  • Tuesday – Thursday: 4 – 10 p.m.
  • Friday: 4 – 11 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

For more information, you can visit the Benny’s Big Time Facebook page. The restaurant is located 206 Greenfield Street, between South Front and South 3rd streets.

On the map:[mappress mapid=”1115″]

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