I have an attachment to the name Benjy. I think it is because my name is so similar to it, and because so many people, over the years, have assumed that my correct name actually is Benjy because, after all, what the heck kind of name is Banji?
Though I don’t remember many things, I am sure that I already have shared with all of you where my name comes from. I was named after my great-grandfather, Benjamin Mittlepunkt (yes, that was really his last name — I guess I should be grateful that my mother didn’t want to name me that!). According to my mom, she really wanted a girl, and originally she wanted to name me Bambi, but my dad said that if my first name was Bambi, my middle name would be Dumbo. And if my first name was Bambi I probably would have been the first Orthodox Jewish exotic dancer, and that career would have ended badly for oh so many reasons — so Banji Dawn it was and still continues to be, and the exotic dancing thing is just a dream… (I am totally kidding about the dancing.)
Anyway, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted about taking his family to a restaurant in my home town, Fair Lawn, called Benjy’s Pizza. Upon seeing this post and the pictures and the glowing review of the food (yes, another column about food, and no, I have not gained the weight back that I have lost — but thanks for the vote of confidence). I told husband#1 about Benjy’s Pizza and that the next time we went to Fair Lawn, we should stop by and try it.
Honestly, up until I saw that post, I didn’t even know that there was a kosher pizza place in Fair Lawn. Aside from the amazing bagels, the only other hot spot in Fair Lawn is Kosher Express, which is incredible Chinese takeout. With all of the wonderful selections of kosher pizza in Teaneck, it never entered my mind that a place like Benjy’s even existed.
But now I know, so to Benjy’s we went.
Benjy’s, which is on River Road in Fair Lawn, is owned by an affable man named Benjy — but everyone who knows him calls him Benny. The place looks like your typical Israeli pizza joint, either owned by an Israeli or actually in Israel, and there is a nice-size seating area in the next room. But what I really loved about this place was that unlike other pizza stores, Benny doesn’t have a whole variety of pies lying around, looking like they have been there for weeks. I always get a little queasy when I walk into some pizza places craving a veggie slice, and the slice looks like it has seen better days. So on the one hand, I don’t get it, and it saves me the calories, but on the other hand, I become cranky because I was really in the mood for pizza.
At Benjy’s, they only had a fresh regular pie on display, and when I told him that I wanted a mushroom and onion slice, he made it fresh for me. And it was delicious. And because we were schmoozing for a while with my Fair Lawn countryman, he let me sample the garlic knots, which were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. (And since I didn’t actually order them, the calories did not count.)
It turned out to be a delightful afternoon. Benjy’s Pizza has actually been in Fair Lawn for more than 10 years, which is quite the feat in a town like Fair Lawn. The folks we met in the restaurant are huge Benny fans, and it was clear as to why that is the case — he is such a mensch. And when I like someone and I like their food, I want to share that knowledge with those of you who still have the patience to read my column! On Mondays and Saturday nights (yes, that is right, Saturday nights!!) a regular pie is only $12.99! Totally worth the trip to Fair Lawn for a deal like that.
And the pizza is really good. Because if the guy making it is named Benjy, how could it not be? Give it a try and let me know what you think — and be sure to tell Benny that Banji says hello!
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck was not coerced or financially compensated for writing this column. She just really likes pizza, people with the name Benjy, and people with the name Benjy who make pizza in Fair Lawn.