Hometown Eats: Benny’s

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 3:13 PM EDT
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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - “We made a big pizza, made it a great product, and it expanded from there,” said Benny’s director of operations Michael Kight.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, that may be true about most things, but Virginia takes the title for one of the biggest pizzas you’ll find, at Benny’s.

“28-inch pie we cut into eight slices traditionally and normally 14 inches on each slice. About a pound per slice so each pizza is just under eight pounds per pizza,” explained Kight.

The name and recipe comes from a man named Benedito, or Benny, who grew up in the old country and worked at an Italian gun club in Manhattan until he left the city and moved to the eastern shores of Virginia, baking pies in his brick oven on his porch.

Decades later, his story was the inspiration for owners and Virginia Tech grads Zach Toth and Chris Brown. In 2011, they opened the first Benny’s in Blacksburg to the delight of college kids.

Since then, they’ve opened 29 shops across Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and even Wyoming.

Feeding both young and old, legendary coaches, football players, dogs, my wife, and even a president.

“It’s all fresh ingredients. Fresh tomatoes, we make our dough daily, the cheese is a blend to us. It’s a five-cheese blend that is specifically made to our standards and it gives us a different freshness that other chains can’t have,” said Kight.

Kight knew Zach from high school and has been with the company for a decade as the director of operations. He’s showing one of the newest locations in Bedford at the refurbished Six Twenty building on Railroad Avenue called Benny Soldato’s.

Each Benny’s has a different name that is unique to the area it’s feeding.

“We started with Benny Marzano’s because we use a Marzano tomato so that’s where the original name came from. Benny Soldato’s is a little ode to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford. It means soldier in Italian. It seems to really link us into the community itself. I think they appreciate it more than just coming in and having the same name throughout all our stores,” said Kight.

They keep it simple and to the point at Benny’s with the toppings. Cheese, pepperoni, or sausage with a rotating meat and veggie topping each month.

But a great pizza only needs one topping and that’s cheese and in just 8 minutes, one of these bad boys is ready to turn heads.

If you’re up for a real test, you can try the Benny’s challenge. An entire 28-inch cheese pizza in 28 minutes, crust included.

“I’ve seen about 500 people try and only one complete it. You can drink anything you want during the time and if you get it all down in under 28 minutes you get $280, a t-shirt, and a plaque on the wall for a little notoriety.”

“Just being a part of every community we go into is thrilling and exciting. We enjoying going to work,” said Kight.

Benny’s, a hometown eat that’s home to the Virginia slice.

You can find Benny Soldatos located at 620 Railroad Ave STE A, Bedford, VA 24523.

To watch more Hometown Eats, click HERE!