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Bensi~Old Bridge

Has anyone tried this place yet? It is located in that new strip mall on Rt. 9.


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  1. Ive been to the one up in North Jersey, nothing special. A step above Olive Garden, but a small step moreso because of the selection.

    The menu was actually a bit different but everything I tasted was either over sugared or over oiled with bland flavor. Id say give it a try if your curious but otherwise, stick to the locals.

    6 Replies
    1. re: yankeefan

      Bensi Restaurants are privately owned. Each restaurant is managed by a Chef/Owner and a Manager/Owner. Most dishes are cooked fresh to the customer's order. All pasta is cooked to order (never cooked in advance).
      Each restaurant makes pizza dough, fresh mozzarella, fresh soups, uses nature veal, 100% olive oil, fresh vegetables-----quality, quality, quality. It's good wholesome food, as close to home cooking as you can get.

      1. re: brook2334

        if so, why is the menu so weak??? It is the SAME as everywhere else.....chicken parm, veal, spaghetti with vodka sauce....crazy...I culd do up and down Rt. 9 and be blindfolded and not know which rest. is which because the menus are all the same.

        I never beleiev pasta is cooked to order, because everyone seems to look for a shortcut. Now...if the pasta was homemade, like Daniel Boulud makes, THEN I would definately try the place.

        1. re: Angelina

          Even if the pasta is cooked to order, a true chef-owned restaurant might offer the possibility of his or her own creative menu. But the menu at all the Bensi locations is the same and, as Angelina points out, it's just the same old, same old. So, afaic, it's still a chain.

          1. re: RGR

            Lets all agree to disagree on what it really means about the menu.. the fact is, the food is delplorable. Hate to sum it up that way, but had to do it.

        2. re: brook2334

          "Each restaurant makes pizza dough, fresh mozzarella, fresh soups, uses nature veal, 100% olive oil, fresh vegetables"

          Not that I'm saying this place is bad, but based on that statement, doesn't automatically make it good, I can list 100 places in the are that I can say the same thing about and they still serve dogpoop on a plate (but it's "fresh".

          1. re: RPMcMurphy

            Hysterical!!!! How right you are, RPMCMURPHY!!!!

      2. Hey, Angelina,

        I had to laugh when I saw the ad for Bensi in one of the many ad-filled booklets that populate our mailboxes. Another Italian restaurant? Really? What can I say? We need another Italian restaurant like we need "a luch in kup"!! (Translation from the Yiddish: a hole in the head) And a chain, no less! Acc. to the ad, 16 locations in NJ and PA. Frankly, I'd never heard of Bensi before, and I'm going to make believe it doesn't exist.

        4 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          RGR and all,

          Bensi is not a chain in the true sense. As I understand it, they are all owned and operated by a family with extended members.......who own two of the more popular Pizzeria and Italian Family Restaurants in Bergen County, with well respected quality and value for food, that do not go by the Bensi Label. The two locations are Rudy's in Closter and Tenafly Pizza Kitchen. Bensi is based on a combination of these two places. Family Italian Restaurants located in Strip Malls offering pizza and fresh cooked meals on premise, hopefully better than your favorite local pizzeria, and not as expensive as full service restaurants. Originally, The Family's plan was to open up to 40 locations throughout New Jersey and then sell the entire company.

          I believe the concept now is to open the new locations using the Family's recipes and bring in working partners who have interest in each individual store, to insure the standards are held in place.

          1. re: fourunder

            Thanks for that explanation, fourunder. Family-owned it may be, but to me, it's still a chain. If I want Italian in the area, I'd rather stick with SamVera.

            1. re: fourunder

              Appreciate the description, but I still have to offer my opinion that the food there is absolutely not worth it. Olive Garden with larger portions.

              1. re: yankeefan

                You're not hurting my feelings........I do not go to the location in my area....so I cannot attest to the food there.,,,,,,

                However, if you are ever in Bergen County and in the towns specified.....their original locations are local favorites.

          2. Tried it the week it opened and have crossed it off my list. I didnt realize it was a chain. I usually steer clear of those. Don't bother...the food was mediocre at best, the wait staff a bunch of inexperienced kids who are not familiar with any italian food and the atmosphere is horrific...flourescent lighting, bright, stark....felt like I was eating in a school cafeteria. We were 3 couples and all voted NAY!

            1. On a somewaht related and positive note. Salasalito's....or something like that located in the same shopping plaza is pretty good in a pinch. Not talking gourmet scale fine dining but when your on the go and need a quick lunch it's good and better than traditonal fast food alternatives. A healthy alternative if you are careful with what you order. Burrito and taco type stuff. Though they have nothing on surf taco!

              1 Reply
              1. re: angelo04


                You were pretty close with the name. It's Salsarita's, and there's a previous thread about it. Angelina's experience there was also fairly positive. Despite that, I avoid chains whenever possible.


              2. Was talking to my neighbor and he mentioned this place so I thought I would ressurect the thread. I am torn. I am with most of you and try to avoid chains. However, my neighbor goes here once a week. He has a very fine palate and knows good food. Regualrly eats in the city and the better places in NJ. He says while it's not a gourmet level outstanding NYC place, it executes solid well prepared basic Italian dishes. If he twists my arm and gets me here, I will be sure to report back.

                1. I liked their chicken francaise, but their pizza was awful...

                  1. here's a pic of the chicken francaise, and the remaining pizza we brought home;
                    (the little one is not quite as particular with his pizza)

                    1. Wish me luck....I'm reluctantly going to the one in North Brunswick tonight as I've been "volunteered" to a dinner with some of my gf's friends....

                      can't screw up spaghetti and meatballs can ya? haha.

                      1. Has anyone been to the Bensi in Garwood?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: albinoni

                          I was there yesterday for lunch on a whim. Was starving, happened to drive by. I never had a desire to go in there before but the hunger I was feeling was overwhelming and as many know, Garwood isn't exactly a food destination hot spot.

                          I was pleasantly surprised, and had not read this thread until just now. Glad I didn't or may have been biased. The restaurant is nothing to look at, typical pizzeria place trying to be more upscale and barely succeeding. However, the service was good particularly for an afternoon and there were several people having their meals at a rather late hour (2ish).

                          Upon being seated, I looked over the menu, which as mentioned is pretty extensive. Prices are reasonable. The waitress brought over a bowl of puffy garlic squares which were addictive so be forewarned. Also, a loaf of hot bread came over - way too much carbs but appreciated. This made my choice tough since initially i wanted a personal pizza but all that bread my me decide otherwise; and I picked the lunch sized portion of the Chicken Arugula for $10.95, which was breaded chicken cutlets over Arugula with diced tomatoes, sweet peppers and fresh mozzerella on top. Came with either a pasta side or a salad and I chose the salad. There was a dinner sized one too which I believe was only about $3 more, give or take.

                          Salad was basic iceberg, with tomatoes, onions, a few olives. But fresh and nicely portioned so that was fine. The main dish was extremely good. Three decent sized pieces of chicken, very tender, nice breading. The argula was fresh, tomatoes ripe, good amount of roasted pepper strips, and lots of mozzerella. Only problem to me was the mozzerella was diced a bit too small which made it difficult to keep on the fork and get all of it.

                          I was completely stuffed, didn't touch the hot bread loaf (oh could I?) Meal was under $12 with tax, I only had water (I don't drink soda and wasn't in the mood for anything else). I probably could have taken some home if I wasn't as ravenous as I had been. And those garlic bread puffs ARE to die for. The worst thing I can say about the place is the waitress, who was lovely, had on a ton of perfume which is a pet peeve of mine (and many other people as well). All in all, a nice experience. I'm aware this isn't great italian dining and BTW, I'm a long time poster here, usually go under a different name which you all would recognize - I've changed it recently for personal reasons - but suffice it to say I've posted many reviews here and know the difference between good, bad and decent. Bensi in Garwood is pretty good for moderate Italian on a budget and I'd go back again for sure. I'm looking forward to seeing how their pizza stands up to others in the area.

                        2. Bensi serves decent chain-style Italian food. DH and I go about once a month when the craving strikes.
                          pros: hot bread served to table, very good crispy chicken in any dish (chicken parm, chicken pizza), good Bensi salad, food cooked to order, can order wide range of dishes from sandwiches to full dinners, consistent quality of food from the kitchen
                          cons: bad service (most of the waitstaff appears to be new to the job), long wait times for food

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: njchowgal

                            Last weekend I tried their new location in Flemington. bread was fresh and hot-no garlic puffs though. The chicken on broccoli rabe was absolutely delicious. The chicken was crisp, the broccoli rabe was fresh, a bit crisp, and full of fresh garlic. There was so much I brought some home. Other family members had baked ziti-also a huge portion, and chicken parm. The sauce was rated "good", not too sweet. The service was wonderful-we had an apparently experienced waiter . Desserts were a bit boring-none of of them interested us. We're definitely going back-it beat Max's 31 in Flemington by a mile.

                          2. I think Bensi must be throwing some serious curves to this group. I've found the place to be neither as bad as the detractors say nor as good as the fans say.

                            It's a chain-like group - I think it's more of a co-op among semi-independent owners than a chain serving corporate food. Bensi's food is far superior to any found in those faux-Italian chains. I never found the food there "chain-like" as njchowgal says. While far from chain-like, I can't support Lyds's contention that Bensi beats Max's.

                            Fact is, Bensi's is good, but not that good. Between my house and any Bensi's are dozens of Italian eateries better than it - and I include Max's places in that list. If you're nearby a Bensi's, it's worth a stop. But I could never suggest a special trip to one.

                            BTW, I don't consider waiting for food a "bad thing" - as an old Italian I view restaurant food prepared fast to be suspect.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: CompareFranco

                              I had a feeling if I compared Bensi to Max's 31 someone would comment. But, frankly, we went there about a month ago and had a very disappointing meal.

                              Hisband and son ordered the same dish,a mixed plate of chicken parm, meatballs and 1 other item. Each received different portions such as 1 meatball for one, two for the other, different amounts of chicken... Scrawny portion of veal saltimbocca for me. We don't judge a restaurant by portion size, but for $19 I want more than 3 small pieces of veal. There was nothing to accompany it and of our meals -o salad or pasta with any entree-even for my guys, so they had a plate of protein, no veggie. Daughter's meal didn't come until we asked,.

                              We spoke to our waitress about the different portions she told us she talked to the kitchen and that's how the kitchen puts it out-bad answer. I spoke to the manager and wrote a letter-no response. I won't go back.

                              1. re: CompareFranco

                                A word about long wait times- I don't mind waiting for food, either. I should have been more specific. The wait times for food are often 45min-1hr from ordering, which is often after a 15 min wait for a server. For this reason, we only go when we have the time to spend a whole evening at dinner. This is probably limited to the Old Bridge location, which is still experiencing the problems of a newly opened restaurant (poor coordination between wait staff, management, and kitchen). Since this location has been open for a while, I can only imagine that it is due to high employee turn over.

                                1. re: CompareFranco

                                  Lyds & njchowgal

                                  Sorry, we're talking apples & kangaroos here. I was responding to the food level of the 2 eateries. From your replies, your bad experiences had to do with the quality of the service. I understand your comments better now. Service - and cleanliness - are restaurant 101 - they are givens. Your experiences are unacceptable.

                                  A chef once said to me: "I think I'm a good chef, but nothing I do in my kitchen can make-up for poor service."

                                  Somebody in the kitchen at Max's screwed-up on your orders and no one wanted to take responsibility - unacceptable. And yes, njchowgal, there's a big difference between waiting for food to be prepared correctly and waiting for a server. A 15 min wait for your server? Unacceptable. I've been at places that were short-handed - but before I was seated, I was informed that service might be slow - I could have opted to leave, some people did. Now that's professionalism.

                                2. it's just about a year later and i went last night. it was AWFUL. AWFUL...from the plain salad with oily house dressing to the frozen freezer-burned vegetables doused in plain butter to the 3 tiny dried out shrimp with a lump of crabmeat???? no, it was just plain breading. but the iced tea was good. the server was a nice kid, not his fault the kitchen is AWFUL. and to think in todays economy i spent my money there is maddening.

                                  1. Finally went to the Bensi in Garwood last night, and though dinner was not flawless, overall it was fine. Agree with those who liked it for the warm bread served as soon as we sat down. They also served garlic/scallion knots that were way too greasy. Excellent martini, which is not easy to find in central NJ. I had the potato crusted salmon on bed of spinach, fish was fresh and flavorful, veggies al dente. I'd get it again. Not so successful were my mom's lobster tails, which spent too much time under the broiler.

                                    Good mini canolis for desert. Excellent expresso.

                                    Also agree with posters who criticize the service. Our waiter was earnest but inexperienced. When he asked how everthing was, I mentioned the problem with the lobster tails, and he just giggled and walked away. I'm not sure he understood what I said, or maybe managment had never prepared him on how to cope with an honest answer to the question. One other thing I really liked-- parking right in front is a breeze and the restaurant is handicapped accessible.

                                    BTW, I don't have a problem with this place being part of a chain. In fact, two of my favorite steakhouses--The Prime Rib in Baltimore, and the Hyde Park Grille in Ohio, are chains, and the qualtiy of food and service at both places is excellent. Bensi does not rise to their level, of course, but it ain't Red Lobster either. One of the things we expect from a chain restarant is uniformity--usually bad. The diverse opinions posted on this board seems to highlight the lack of uniformity among Bensi's various branches, so it pays to know which ones should be avoided.

                                    1. hi angelina, have tried bensi on rt 9 and also in garwood...went with my mom to lunch to both places and they were good, not authentic "Italian" if that's what you're looking for. I wouldn't go for a romantic/quiet dinner there, though, it's not that kind of place. if you're hungry, its a decent lunch.....bustling, very chain-like...typically an on-the-run kind of restaurant.

                                      1. Usually if I have nothing nice to say I keep my mouth but this was the WORST meal I have ever eaten!

                                        BENSI Rt 9 Old Bridge = BAD ITALIAN FOOD

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: shabbystorm

                                          shabbystorm- what did you order that was so bad? i have never had bad food there, and we go fairly often. is there an item i should steer clear of?

                                          1. re: njchowgal

                                            Steer clear of everything!!! shabbystorm is right!!! You probably could get better food on the corner of 10th and 59th in NYC......

                                            1. re: njchowgal

                                              That particular meal was the Mozzerella and Tomato Salad and a good old fashion plate of spaghetti and meatballs. So bad!

                                              NJChowgal based on your eating knowledge of the area I respect your opinion.

                                              As we know restaurants can definitely have an off day.

                                              1. re: shabbystorm

                                                sorry you had a bad experience, shabby...for a decent lunch (if anyone is interested) stick with the Chicken Francaise w/Artichokes...the chicken is pounded paper thin and the lemon sauce is great by my standards and i'm a self confessed food snob.....the atmosphere is no better than an applebees or fridays..no imagination at all. my daughter is no cook and eats at the new brunswick one several times a week and loves it...

                                          2. This place has seriously gone downhill. Avoid at all costs. Food is of poor quality -place is overall dirty/greasy.. Went for Sunday Brunch and it was disastrous.

                                            4 Replies
                                              1. re: StantonChef

                                                The Old Bridge location...my daughter in North Brunswick said the one there has also suffered over the past year.

                                                1. re: jerseygurl

                                                  I dined at the Parsippany/Rt 10 location, godawful meal.

                                              2. re: jerseygurl

                                                tell me more about that disastrous Sunday brunch...you've got my curiousity up..

                                                sorry to hear about the downhill alert for Bensi's , Old Bridge..
                                                sounds like they are taking shortcuts with food quality, etc...
                                                (too often the case ! A place starts out decent, and gets progressively worse..)