At 2501 W. Main St., where Continental Divide used to sling tacos and margs to late-night Fan revelers, Benny Ventano’s is serving up the biggest slices of pizza in town. The corner spot opened for business on Monday, April 8, and manager Daphne Collins says each day has gotten busier than the last.
This is the newest iteration of Benny’s, a regional joint launched by two Virginia Tech grads back in 2011. The concept has been simple from the beginning in Blacksburg: good pizza, and lots of it, at a reasonable price. A 14-inch slice with toppings, which is large enough to require two paper plates, is $5 even. For purists who just want plain ol’ cheese, it’s $4. A full 28-inch pizza, large enough to feed a family for a weekend or cure at least two hangovers, is $30 for cheese and $38 with toppings.
At any given time, at any given location, you’ll find three regular options of cheese, pepperoni and sliced Italian sausage, plus two monthly specials. Those vary from one location to the next — in Richmond for the rest of April we’ve got Buffalo chicken and garlic mushroom. Benny Meleto’s in Winchester is serving up mac ‘n’ cheese and a breakfast pizza with eggs, crumbled sausage, ricotta and bacon, and in Norfolk it's got bacon cheeseburger and a veggie-heavy option with onions, olives and bell peppers.
Listed on the menu as “Not Pizza” are Joe Tea kettle-cooked potato chips, available in regular, jalapeño and sour cream and toasted onion, for $1.50 a bag. The liquor license hasn’t come through yet, but Collins says a selection of local beer and cider will soon be available by the can.
Each location, most of which are in Virginia, has its own Italian-inspired second name. The original, Benny Marzano’s, was christened as such in the name of San Marzano tomatoes, which are traditionally used on pizza. Here in Richmond it’s called Benny Ventano’s, a play on venti, the Italian word for “twenty" — this is the company’s 20th store.
The people behind Benny’s knows their audience, and they’re leaning into it. Doors open for lunch (or a late breakfast, depending on who you ask) at 11 a.m. seven days a week, and it’s always open until at least midnight, with extra-late hours on weekends.
2501 W. Main St.
Sundays-Wednesdays 11 a.m. - midnight
Thursdays 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.
Fridays - Saturdays - 11 a.m. - 3 a.m.