Warm. Vibrant. Decorative. These are three words that come to mind when entering Benucci’s, a contemporary Italian restaurant nestled in the heart of Pittsford Plaza.

Surrounded by various stores, including a Cold Stone Creamery and a movie theater, the area offers plenty of activity for a night on the town. The restaurant bustles with excitement as the dynamic Italian wine bar overflows and chatting couples, families and friends sip wines and snack on cheese and olive appetizers. On the dining room side, all of the medium and large booths fill up with parties from four to six people, who all enjoy various stages of their meals a happy, lively scene.

Walking up to the matre de, we were immediately greeted with a smile and, after giving our reservation name (which was made in the mid-afternoon), waited a mere five minutes before being seated. Considering the waves of people that entered the restaurant as we waited and the crowd already dining, this was extremely timely. Sliding into the booth, the seats were comfy. The wood paneling and beautiful lighting mirrored the dcor of a pricey restaurant, which Benucci’s certainly is not. The ambiance is both comfortable and welcoming, a beautiful black and white landscape of Italian coastline gracing the walls along the interior.

‘It’s a very cozy place where you can have an intimate and relaxing night out with friends,” senior Lyanne Yozawitz said.

First to come to the table, as expected, is water. The presentation, however, was not expected. Instead of being served from one of those plastic pitchers with the spouts for easy pouring, the waitress poured the water gracefully from a sleek plastic-corked glass bottle, as though serving wine. Two little bread loaves were served hot from the oven with crunchy crusts and soft centers, accompanied by a garlic butter spread that was wonderful to taste. The evening’s tone was set.

Glancing at the menu, it was immediately apparent that it was only one-sided. Yet what the restaurant perhaps lacked in variety, it overwhelmingly made up for in quality. While it would be easy to get caught up in delicious-sounding appetizers, such as Calamari Fritta or Roasted Garlic Cheese Bread, a salad would be a smarter way to go because the entrees are so sizable. With the House Salad and Classic Caesar at $4 each, they’re a steal.

The House Salad’s combination of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and balsamic vinaigrette was really tasty. The Caesar was croutons were crunchy and the cream-based dressing was a homemade embodiment of deliciousness.

The main courses are substantial. Each order came out of the kitchen steaming hot and cooked to the patron’s specifications. The best of the pastas includes the Pollo Fusilli, a combination of fusilli pasta grilled chicken, garlic, olive oil, broccoli and roasted peppers, a definite and refreshing departure from a commonplace pasta dish like a fettuccine alfredo. Topped with some fresh Parmesan grated off the block by the waitress, it’s like putting icing on the cake, for lack of a better phrase.

For those who enjoy the classics of an Italian menu, the Italian Specialties section is your spot and the Chicken Parmesan is a dish you don’t want to miss. Two thick cutlets of chicken are well-breaded, layered with melted cheese and placed atop a bed of spaghetti marinara that could feed a small army.

At $12, it is definitely this week’s Best Bang For Your Buck. Equally priced, and very close in size, are the Eggplant Rollettes, a twist on the classic eggplant Parmesan two sizable pieces of eggplant, thinly sliced, breaded and fried, rolled and stuffed with ricotta cheese. Gracing a plate of linguine in a portabella tomato basil cream sauce makes it an appetizing vegetarian option.

For the college student, Benucci’s could not get much better. The waiters are wonderfully attentive, the atmosphere is vibrant and exciting a perfect escape from the boredom of campus dining life. With pastas averaging $12 and entrees maxing out at $19, the prices are quite fair to the student on a budget who desires a nice night out with some friends or even a date (guys, take note).

Benucci’s is most certainly true to its name in serving delicious Italian food in a grand setting.

Siegel is a member of the class of 2010.

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