As I’ve mentioned in the past, Lick the Plate takes me back and forth between San Diego, Detroit and Northern Michigan on a regular basis.
They are three drastically different regions and it’s those differences that I thrive on.
That said, with the advent of a “foodie” culture, besides the obvious dishes native to the regions like fish tacos and coney dogs, you can find gastro pubs, public houses, sushi joints and local craft beer galore in all three areas.
One culinary distinction found in Southeast Michigan, and one that is gaining popularity outside of the area, is Detroit-style pizza.
And just my luck, Benito’s, one of my favorite Detroit pizza joints, has opened a Benito’s Café in downtown Oceanside where they do a whole lot more than pizza. More on that later, first let me give you a brief description and history on this fabulous pie.
In essence, a Detroit-style pie is a rectangular pizza, with a slightly thick, crunchy crust that is very crispy on the sides and bottom.
Some Detroit shops have the toppings and the cheese baked into it and the sauce on top.
The one thing they all have in common is the metal pan that originated from scrap metal drip trays during World War II and found new life after as pizza pans.
The iconic, definitive caramelized corners of the crust can be directly attributed to that style of pan. I tend to avoid some pizza crust but it is one of the best parts of Benito’s Detroit-style pie.
It’s a hearty, filling pizza that is as good hot as it is cold the next day, which is my ultimate test of a pizza.
OK, enough about the Detroit-style pizza as it should be noted that Benito’s has a lot of different pizza selections to choose from.
Hand-tossed round, thin crust, deep dish and Neapolitan inspired brick oven pizzas are also available.
You can build your own with the usual toppings or get fancy with some prosciutto, hot capicola, zucchini, eggplant, portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, sautéed spinach, goat cheese and more. Sizes range from a 9-inch personal to a 24-inch Big Benito.
Specialty pies include the Hawaiian, BBQ Chicken, Big Meal, Deluxe or Chicken Supreme or vegetarian with the Mediterranean, Vegetarian or Spinach Supreme.
And if that is not enough pizza options they offer up the brick oven menu.
Those pizzas are baked directly on a hot stone, which gives an authentic Italian pizza made from imported Italian caputo flour and layered with fresh Italian tomato, alfredo or creamy pesto sauce. So needless to say, if you have several different tastes in pizza styles in your household, Benito’s has one to satisfy each of those desires.
Besides the pizza, there is an extensive menu to choose from that includes one of my favorites when I’m in Detroit, their pizza sub. I get it with extra cheese and well done for a bit more crunch.
They have a whole lineup of oven-baked subs, calzones, wings, pastas, salads, soups and sides.
All of their sauces are original recipes and made in-house. They offer pasta marinara or meat sauce, Fettuccini Alfredo, Creamy Pesto Spaghetti, Tomato Blush Penne and Mac & Cheese Cellentani.
It was also a treat to see that Benito’s offers genuine Broaster Chicken, which is another touch of Detroit that was made popular by the Chicken Shack chain there.
Broasted chicken is battered and cooked in oil as well, but then it’s deep fried in a pressure cooker and that instantly locks in all the juices by immersion process cooking all sides of meat at once. It takes fried chicken to a higher level and is worth trying for sure.
Benito’s Oceanside location is owned and operated by Benito and his three sons, Jason, Mauro and Michael Mautone, who all grew up in the business in Detroit.
Benito immigrated from Palinuro, Italy, when he was 18 and in 1979 opened his first Benito’s location in Michigan.
They have since grown Benito’s into a multi-unit pizzeria brand with over 20 units.
The Oceanside location was an easy choice because of the beautiful building with its original exposed high-beam wooden ceiling and mural that pay homage to Benito’s hometown in Italy.
The front door rolls up for that indoor outdoor vibe in the heart of downtown on Mission and its bustling restaurant scene.
Benito’s also has a custom, 10-tap beer tower stocked with a nice selection of craft beers; an imported Italian wine selection; bottled domestic beers; and an espresso bar offering espresso, cappuccino, Americano and latte options.
Dine in with a full-service or order at the counter to eat in for a quick bite, or take it to go. Call ahead for pickup and delivery. An outdoor patio is coming soon, and there is parking in the back.
Find Benito’s Pizza Café at 610 Mission Avenue, Oceanside. Call (760) 721-3000 or visit www.benitospizza.com
Coast News Lick the Plate columnist David Boylan is celebrating 10 years and 500 columns with the Coast News in 2019! His feature covers the ever expanding North County culinary scene that includes restaurants, culinary personalities, trends, observations, tributes and his popular takeover column where area businesses, bands or teams contribute to the column. Lick the Plate has also been a popular radio show for the past eight years in San Diego on 100.7 KFMB, and on stations in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the column and radio show, David runs Tatonka Digital & Analog, a boutique marketing agency headquartered in Oceanside, California. Reach him with show suggestions at email@example.com or www.lick-the-plate.com