My dad has a friend who owns a bar a few blocks south of Lincoln on 13th Street. When he is in town, I occasionally join him there for a beverage or two.
On my way there, I've passed Benny's Pizza, 1102 W. Lincoln Ave. There were always customers there, so I figured it may be worth a visit.
The storefront includes four booths along the west wall and a counter with stools along the east wall next to the service counter. A glass case with two large pizzas, one sausage and one pepperoni, sat atop the service counter for pizza slices sold at $2 each.
When I visited, Benny's was busy with delivery business. Delivery drivers were steadily carrying out three to four pizzas at a time. A few patrons came in for carry-out orders.
I started with a slice of sausage pizza from the case. The crust was hand-tossed and thicker than I expected. I don't think I would call it deep dish, but rather a "double crust," about a third of an inch thick, maybe a little less.
The crust was crispy but had a dense consistency like that of a cookie or a pie crust, except without the sweetness. In fact, I thought the crust could have used some butter and garlic to balance out the dense and somewhat dry texture.
The sausage chunks were on the small side but had a nice spicy flavor, and the pizza was loaded with thick layers of cheese. I didn't try the pepperoni pizza, but it sure looked good.
The sauce was sweet and actually quite good in my humble opinion. I also like the way the sauce oozed onto both sides of my mouth with each bite. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get past the crust issues or I might have been a fan of this pizza.
I decided to try something else, so I looked at the menu but was confused by the pizza pricing schedule on the board. I asked for a take-out menu and it didn't help much.
Pizzas come in 12, 14, 16 and 18 inches. The small cheese pizza starts at $8.15. The 18-inch cheese party pizza starts at $15.75. The part I couldn't figure out was the charge for additional toppings.
Other menu items include appetizers, salads, ribs, shrimp baskets, pastas and sandwiches.
The menu advertised a new Hawaiian pizza with the standard ham and pineapple, so I decided to give it a try. The price was clearly stated for this pizza. I pre-paid for the pie and patiently waited.
I sat in the booth closest to the door. You never know when a quick exit may be needed. In the booth behind me sat three young adults. One young man was playing hip-hop songs on his cell phone. The songs told stories of questionable behavior.
The other two were a couple. The young woman sat silently as if she felt she could only speak when spoken to.
After they completed their dinner, the two men got up to leave, advising her to leave with them. I don't think she was finished yet. She asked them not to leave her. They left anyway. A few minutes later, she left, too.
I wondered if they would have come back for her. She likely thought they would not. I'm sure they found each other again. That kind of bond can't be broken ... but I digress.
My pizza could not arrive soon enough. I didn't want to find out what other characters might visit.
The pie was loaded with cheese and pineapple over a layer of ham. I pulled a small slice of ham out to isolate its flavor. It reminded me of hot ham from a bakery on a Sunday.
I did notice that the crust was half the thickness of the pepperoni and sausage pizzas but still dense. Also, the pizza was cut into squares instead of the triangle slices found on the pies in the case.
The slices were heavy from all of the cheese and toppings, so there seemed to be a benefit to the density of the slices. My hands weren't quite as messy as a result, although they were generous with the napkins they provided me.
I asked the gentleman behind the counter if I could speak to the owner. He told me the owner, Abel Rodriguez (no relation), lived in Chicago and may be in the next day.
I called back twice the next day and again the day after, but Rodriguez was in a meeting or out of the store when I called. I was unable to get my questions answered.
How long had Benny's Pizza been in business? Where did the name come from? Why this location? Did he own other pizzerias in Chicago? Was he a Milwaukee native?
I'm not sure I'll make it back to Benny's, so I may never know. If you find out, maybe you can tell me.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Rick Rodriguez
Published May 6, 2015
Mangia Wine Bar received a major remodel a little over a year ago and features a wood burning pizza oven behind the bar, where patrons can enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail while pasta and pizza dough are being made just a few feet away. The combination of Executive Chef Jason Gorman and a wood burning pizza oven warranted a drive south to Kenosha for pizza.
Published April 2, 2015
Bay View has become a popular part of town to eat and drink over the past few years. It's also a place where one can find a pizzeria in the back of a small tavern with a completely different name and a completely different owner. Such is the case with Vinchi's Pizza, which has been located inside The Bubbler at 3158 S. Howell Ave. for the past three years.
Published March 4, 2015
My first experience with Cranky Al's, 6901 W. North Ave., was during the Chili'n on the Ave event in Wauwatosa a few years back. Since then, I've been hearing about their pizza and their doughnuts - the crullers in particular.
Published Feb. 4, 2015
This month's installment of Rick's quest for the perfect pizza takes him to ... the lower level of a Best Western?
Published Jan. 7, 2015
Rick's pizza journey takes him to SALA, where he talks sauce and tries one of the best pizzas he's ever had.
Published Dec. 3, 2014
Rick's constant search for perfect pizza in Milwaukee took him to Brian's in Oak Creek, where things didn't quite go as planned.
Published Nov. 5, 2014
I am one of the many that participates in fantasy football leagues. One year, a league commissioner ordered pizza from Michaelangelo's, at 8330 W. Puetz Rd in Franklin, for our draft party, and I enjoyed it enough to add it to my list.
Published Oct. 1, 2014
I googled Magellan's upon getting a recommendation and learned it offered the self-proclaimed "best pizza in Waukesha." I haven't had great experiences with Waukesha pizza, so I figured I'd give this place a visit.
Published Sept. 3, 2014
Early last year, there was quite a bit of buzz over the transformation of Palermo Villa into Divino Wine and Dine, 2315 N. Murray Ave., and equal buzz about Dean Cannestra taking over the space after closing his previous venture, Libiamo.
Published Aug. 6, 2014
I started working for my current employer six years ago. A few months after I started, one of my team members invited us all over to his Sussex home for a Packers party. Among the popular party foods were pizzas delivered from a nearby pizzeria. The pizza was good enough - and the name was catchy enough - for me to remember them both all of these years later.