Bene Pizza and Pasta

Bene Pizza and Pasta, a Retro Restaurant and Arcade is located at 12301 West Maple Rd in Omaha.  When we decided to go here we didn’t realize this place was on Restaurant Impossible with Robert Irvine.  We choose it because my son wanted to go to a place he could play games at and I find this online. I wish I had seen and visited it before and after the makeover to compare, but since I didn’t you will only get a review of the “after”.  I did notice as I was looking them up that at least online their logo “a Retro Restaurant and Arcade” is spelled wrong.  Something they should probably fix as first impressions are priceless.  Their webpage could use some overhaul too but let’s focus on the restaurant itself.

I did recall seeing part of this episode on TV as it was a big debate between the family and Robert about keeping the arcade.  I think keeping the arcade was a smart choice and if it wasn’t sectioned off as it is now then that was also a good choice.  The arcade doesn’t interfere with the diners and adds to the atmosphere and gives the younger crowds something to do.  My husband and I also enjoyed a few games while our 6 year old was playing.  It was fun playing those old games again.

I don’t understand how the décor symbolizes a retro restaurant.  It was pleasant, clean and bright but maybe too bare and not enough personality.  There was a corner “bar” type area that I also didn’t knew what it was used for or its purpose.  There are no waitresses and you have to order at the counter, then grab your utensils and napkins that are right near the counter and causes a clog in that area.

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We decided to try their special that evening for an appetizer of crabcakes.  First of all, I know it is probably not fair to judge crabcakes in the Midwest, especially when I have had crabcakes in Maryland and in Alaska.  Bene’s crabcakes were probably from a box and frozen…if not then that is what it reminded me of.  You couldn’t discern the crab from the binding.   I wouldn’t order those again.  We also got the cheese bread.  The menu does say 2 pieces ($3.00) but I was still expecting larger pieces.  The plating of the cheese bread also accentuated the small portion size.  If you were ordering this for a family you should order 2-3.

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My son got the spaghetti.  The serving size was plentiful and the sauce (gravy…if you are not aware a lot of Italians call the sauce- gravy) was excellent.  The sauce tasted like it was simmered for a long time.  It definitely had a homemade flavor.  I cannot recall if we ordered a kids spaghetti and if they have a kids sauce and regular sauce, but the sauce did seem to have red pepper in it as there was a little heat on the back end.  My son is used to our homemade sauces and seasonings including some heat, but other little ones may think it was spicy.  Finally, we ordered a Gracie’s special pizza.  Gracie’s special has sausage, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, onions, artichoke hearts and mozzarella.  It was a thinner crust pizza (which I enjoy).

 

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The owner/ manager came out to ask how everything was and brought us to go containers and was very friendly.  While we were there it was slow, but there was a table of about 8-10 men who seemed to be regulars and enjoying themselves.  As mentioned at the beginning, I do not know what changes Robert made (I need to watch the show) and maybe it is the location that is hindering their success.  The pizza was good, their marinara sauce is advertised and tasted homemade, and they have a niche with the arcade.  In my opinion, they need to rethink the counter ordering and have wait staff.  The counter can still be used for take out and possibly for those sitting on that side of the establishment.  This would help with the bottleneck that happens at the counter and patrons getting their utensils and napkins.  We would go back with our son as he can enjoy the arcade area.  Unfortunately, although the pizza was good I would only eat here for lunch and only come for dinner if we were bringing the children, due to the lack of atmosphere.  In fact, a couple came in while we were there and then walked out.  Ordering at a counter and sitting in a very bright atmosphere does not equal romantic or date night.  The atmosphere was too sterile and cafeteria like.

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