Tucked in a corner of a strip mall next to a 24 hour gym and a shoe store is a little gem of a restaurant that you might miss.
Bensi Ristorante Italiano is actually a branch of a large local chain of restaurants that was founded in 1983 in Tenafly.
Starting as a small pizzeria in downtown Tenafly with the motto ‘Always fresh, All ways Italian’ has spread across New Jersey and Pennsylvania with 24 restaurants currently open or in development. It was one of the communities finest and busiest restaurants served made to order dishes using only the finest ingredients.
Founders and owners John Osso and Mario Bernardo came to this country from Calabria, Italy with the philosophy of introducing food like they had at home, ‘the kind of food that makes you ‘mangia like you mean it’, made with two things the freshest ingredients and love.’ The ‘Made to order’ process is very demanding, requiring commitment and dedicated at every level.
Each Bensi restaurant is run by a head chef and a general manager who
are both co-owners of the business and have a vested interest in the success of the restaurant. They serve the freshest and tastiest Italian dishes in a casual, attractive environment the ‘Bensi Way’. The restaurant stresses as a patron you can always depend on the friendly and attentive staff to make you dining experience a pleasure and to serve food that is “Always Fresh, All Ways Italian’.
This philosophy is taken to heart by General Manager and part owner, Ed Previzi. Ed Previzi was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised upstate in Florida, New York. He currently resides and raises a family in New Milford.
“I was literally born into this business,” Ed states when we sit down together. “I started serving espresso at age nine. My father had a few restaurants both in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I did it all from brushing the coal to serving the customers so I know the business inside out. I got involved in the Bensi organization by way of my brother who had been working for them since he was 16 years old. I myself have been working for the company off and on for about ten years.”
“I have worked all over New Jersey for the company in restaurants in Whitehouse Station, Roxbury, Paramus, North Wales, North Arlington, Denville and now running and co-owning the Hasbrouck Heights restaurant. I spent about two years in each restaurant, learning the operation.
At Bensi, every manager owns a piece of the business which is the motivator in
running a good operation,” Ed continued. “Good management is key to the
business. I will bend over backward for both my staff and our customers. I
treat my staff really well and that reflects in our service.”
“I am very proud of my staff,” Ed said. “When I first came to the Hasbrouck Heights location it had not been profitable for a long time. I read the customer base well, worked harder to find out what they liked and made my recommendations to the staff. Even though it is a corporation, they like us run the restaurants with our own managerial style. This is the beauty of owning part of the business. In the time I have been here, we have raised the business almost 20% at a time when we were ready to close the doors of the restaurant. The crew really worked hard to turn the restaurant around. We have found that our repeat business is about 90%.’
“Our menu is very diverse,” Ed explained. “Our most popular items are the standards with the names of Marsala, Parmigiana and Francese. Our baked items are very popular too. We have a wonderful selection of starters, salads and soups. While our two most popular items are Chicken and Eggplant Parmigiana, we have such exotic dishes as Rigatoni with Cauliflower, Beans and Sundried Tomatoes, Tilapia Francese with Artichoke Hearts, Pan-fried Veal Arugula and such sides as Escarole, beans, garlic and olive oil and potato croquettes. We also have a large catering business that is about 20% of the overall business and can be ordered the day of the event depending on how much needs to be ordered for the event. We will have it hot and ready for pick up. We have many party favorites that include Caesar Salad, Baked Ziti, Lasagna, Chicken Piccata, Sausage & Peppers, Veal Marsala and Crème Brulee Cheesecake. We even have to sternos and water pans for set up. We will create a wonderful experience for the party.”
Bensi Ristorante Italiano
459 Route 17 South
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ