People have made a few Bencotto posts in other thread but I went there Saturday so I figured it should have its own thread.
Started with the riso fritto, their interpretation of the classic arancini, i.e. fried risotto balls. For me this was the best item of the night, the risotto milanese was well made (even though you could tell they "cheated" a bit by using lots of cheese) and the outside was nice and crispy. Normally it comes with some kind of pork ragu dipping sauce, but we subbed in an arrabiata instead.
Since gf and I were sharing all dishes, we wanted to have the pasta course before the meat, as is conventional in Italy. They said they would bring the courses separately but brought them together anyway, which I found annoying. Sloppy service. Anyway the pasta course I'm referring to was a papardelle with bolognese sauce (as an aside, I find their "choose your pasta, choose your sauce" bizarre and kind of low-rent, but since we went with a classical pairing it didn't matter). The sauce was very well made, and you could tell the pasta was as well, but the texture was kind of gummy, I assume from overcooking. Tasty dish but the overcooked pasta threw it off a bit.
For our main course we had the rare steak marinated in mustard. Unique and very good, lightly dressed with olive oil. Mustard was complimentary and not overbearing. Unfortunately since they brought this and the pasta at the same time, it was kind of cold by the time we got to it which was distracting. Finally for dessert we had the pistachio semifreddo (right after our "semifreddo" steak!); the semifreddo itself was enjoyable, I didn't care for the black cherry sauce they put on it, but then again lots of cherry things taste medicine-y to me anyway.
Bencotto is a solid restaurant doing traditional Italian cooking, an option otherwise mostly lacking in SD (except for Buon Appetito). Their service needs work and in this case impacted on the food itself. For the same money, you get better food and wine at Cucina Urbana, so 9 times out of 10 I would choose CU. However, this is a nice addition Little Italy, and exceeds almost everything there right now.
I agree that having to "choose your pasta, choose your sauce" (especially with only six choices) is really disappointing since pasta shape has such an impact on the taste of the sauce. Very disappointing to hear that they weren't able to coordinate when to bring which course. If I would have to pick of service issue which is most annoying it would be it. It is nothing more disappointing to first rush to finish your course and then immediately have to start an already cooling next course. Unfortunately this happens in many restaurants even high-end, including for example Spago and Craft. We have asked several times at different opportunities why they are so rushing and we were always told that restaurants are getting more and more afraid to read bad reviews that the service is too slow that they now tend to be more on the rushing side. This is a very disappointing development since lunch and especially dinner is the moment when you should relax and take your time to enjoy but so often I hear or read people talking for example about that they want to finish a dinner (3 course) in less than an hour.
I went there for the first time this weekend and overall I enjoyed my meal. It is definitely a busy and noisy place although the people who I went with said that the restaurant had taken some measures to reduce the noise problem. The meatball starter was simple but good with a spicy tomato sauce. I was not a huge fan of the fried zuchinni blossoms. They were fine but nothing I would get again.
I really enjoyed the pumpkin ravioli that I had but I was not as crazy about the papperdalle with the bencotto sauce. The pasta itself really stuck together and the sauce was not very flavorful even though it had been described on the menu as spicy. On a positive note, the tirmasu was one of the better versions that I have had in a long time. This is a fun place with very reasonable prices so I plan to go back to try some other things on the menu.
Met my husband here for lunch. Had the riso fritto as well, which were hot, melty and yummy. The bread served with olive oil and balsamic was decent, tho not as good as that bread at Il Postino.
I had the gnocchi with Bencotto sauce. Gnocchi were great, sause was above average. Not as flavorful as it could have been. My husband ordered the tuna sandwich, which I didn't try. He said it was good.
The big problem was the service. It wasn't crowded, but the wait staff spent NO time with the customers. We waited for our order to be taken, had to ask repeatedly for water. Never got more iced tea. Had to ask for the check twice, then she walked by a number of times without picking it up. We had over an hour for lunch, but the people around us were grumbling as they clearly had to get back to work, and had many of the same issues.
I liked the surroundings and ambiance as well as the attention to detail in the decor.
It's good for LIttle Italy, I think I like Il Postino a bit better so far, and I hope they kick the service up a notch!!