The name is new but the restaurant itself may be familiar. Benvenuti is the new incarnation of Salvatore which was operated for many years by owner, Salvatore Piccione. Now the name has changed and so has the restaurant. But it stays in the family with new owners, Salvatore’s sister Angela Alagna, and her son Giuseppe.
Benvenuti is directly opposite Walnut Creek library on Broadway and when I say it has changed, I refer primarily to the décor. After significant renovations it is now much more up-to-date with new paint and artwork etc. creating a very pleasing ambiance.
Changes have been made to the menu as well but loyal customers will be pleased to note that most, if not all, of the old favorites remain. This is, after all, a true Italian restaurant. It is not, like so many so-called Italian restaurants, just a local interpretation.
When Sylvia and I dined there on a recent Friday, the restaurant was already fairly full at around 6.30pm and there was a pleasant buzz of conversation to be heard.
The service here is prompt, friendly and not overly attentive. Just right, in fact. And while we perused the varied menu, we enjoyed a glass of Acacia Carneros chardonnay, one of our favorites. Their wines by the glass are very reasonably priced and there is a good selection.
As usual, we passed on appetizers, intentionally leaving room for dessert. Sylvia had the chicken breast in a Marsala sauce for her entrée, substituting roast potatoes for the polenta on the menu, while I had petrale sole which was served with a lemon butter sauce over orzo pasta. Both dishes came with a selection of vegetables and portion sizes were generous but above all, the quality was really excellent. Much more so than I recall from past visits when it was Salvatore.
Other entrees that I thought looked promising were veal piccata, salmon in a dill cream sauce and a Berkshire pork chop served with apple chutney. That is not to mention the wide range of pasta dishes including the lasagna made famous by Salvatore and still cooked to the same recipe. All pastas are made in house. The emphasis on quality is apparent with sauce terms as “grass fed” and “free range” being prevalent on the menu.
The dessert menu is less varied but again, what is encouraging is that they make their own desserts. On this occasion we shared one of the daily specials, a bread pudding. This is a dish served by many restaurants and the quality varies from place to place but I can say without fear of contradiction that this is the best bread pudding you will find anywhere in the area. It was undoubtedly one of the best we have ever tasted.
As you may have gathered, we enjoyed our visit to Benvenuti and we will definitely return. Check out their website at benvenutiwc.com.