When a cliche is repeated often enough it is possible that it will eventually earn an upgrade to axiom. Such a time honored compliment has been earned by the idiomatic term “variety is the spice of life.” This is especially appropriate when the subject under discussion is food.
A recent addition to the Rosarito Beach-and environs- food scene is most welcome. A young chef-de-cuisine for one of the most respected restaurant families located in the state of Baja California has opened his first individually owned establishment in our area. There is no doubt that all ‘foodies’ living nearby will benefit from the addition.
Chef Benito Arrolo Reyes was born in Veracruz in 1978. Eighteen years later his family moved to Tijuana and his first job in the culinary industry was as a dishwasher at the city’s renowned Villa Saverio. World renowned Chef Javier Plascencia took a liking to the young lad’s infectious personality, high energy, and insatiable desire to learn . As his apprentice, he was given opportunities to progress based on his accomplishments. Sixteen years later he had risen to become sous chef at the restaurant where he had started as a jack-of-all trades over a decade and half ago. Although there were opportunities within the Plascencia Group (which now also included the legendary Caeser’s and the top-rated Mision 19), the opportunity for Benny to start his own establishment came about a few months ago when the owners of another top rated ocean front restaurant, the onomatopoeiacally-named ‘SPLASH,’ decided to move to a new purpose built facility less than a quarter of a mile south of their original location. The eponymous Benny’s Grill was formed to occupy the vacant restaurant.With the concurrent opening of Leo’s, just north of Benny’s, under the proprietorship of world class vocalist Maryam Malak and her husband, chef Leo, the Campo area at around KM 50 (easily reached via the toll road by exiting at Cuenca Lechera) is a nascent mini- Restaurant Row, giving area dining devotees several interesting choices.
Today we’ll focus on Benny’s where we’ve dined several times since they opened. If you’re familiar with the original Splash you already know the spectacular oceanfront location. Like its predecessor, there is a daily Happy Hour with live music on weekend evenings and it is open for breakfast, lunch/brunch & dinner seven days a week.What really differentiates the two is the food preparation. Devotees of Splash are happy with what is served. For those looking for an alternative, the new chef offers a tasty, sophisticated choice.
He told us that his featured specialties include Eight Hour Ribs (marinated in fine herbs,and slow simmered in a Cabernet reduction, and served with sides of garlic mashed potatoes & fresh vegetables), Shrimp Risotto (the secret ingredient is saffron: this Bolognese inspired dish also features six perfectly cooked and seasoned butterflied jumbo shrimp & mushrooms), and Mision-style chicken (a perfectly cooked breast stuffed with dried fruit & mozzarella cheese topped with mango sauce accompanied by a side of pasta and fresh vegetables). All three world class choices of entrees, accompanied by your choice of soup or salad, are available everyday for the incredible price of just $8.95 each.
Wherever possible all of the products, including plenty of fresh fish and other reasonably priced seafood items, are locally sourced in Baja California with one notable exception: the beef is imported from Estados Unidos. The chef told us that the location of the superior quality determines where the product is sourced.Two of the more expensive items on the menu are the Peppered Rib Eye and Filet Mignon. Both, served with appropriate sides, top out (with your choice of soup or salad ) at just $17.50. They are both definitely worth the extra cost if you are a carnivore. Only the Land and Sea Combo (butter fried local lobster, market priced, and your choice of accompanying U.S. bred beef cuts) is more expensive.
All desserts are house made.
This new addition to our local dining scene is a winner. Try it out the next time you’re looking for a scenic location with great food at extremely reasonable prices.
Benny’s Grill is officially located at Pescadores #820, El Campito Principal Ejido Primo Tapia and can be reached by telephone at: (646) 223-9050. There is no longer any need to travel to Tijuana to eat Villa Saverio’s quality food.