Benitto’s Paninoteca Bar: Vibes and Vices

I can paint a picture with words as well as pretty much anyone this side of Hunter S. Thompson—very good at what I do, tremendous—but as I’ve mentioned many times in these pages, skilled visual artistry is a skill that has eluded me all my life.

In any event, my limited control over paint and pencils means I have a great respect for anyone who actually can sublimate the colourful fabric of their perspective into tangible and aesthetically pleasing forms, and so when I was invited to enjoy an exhibition from the talented Pia Malinali Rivera, who had come all the way from Jalisco’s capital city for this special event, I set out for Benitto’s in the Marina district in the hope that I could touch the hem of her robe or something.

The Vibes: I arrived on the scene in uncharacteristically punctual time to scope out the restaurant and get an early glance at some of the featured work. A striking piece depicting a falling cat in various stages of landing on its feet immediately caught my attention for its arrangement of colour and appreciable sense of motion. This was the work of an individual with skills to spare.

As I browsed the selection, I dropped eaves all over the conversation of two fellow attendees who expressed disappointment that a piece they apparently were eyeing for their personal collection had already been sold. On a career path where many can barely find one person who wants to purchase their inspiration, Pia had managed to attract at least three on the same day.

Art is subjective, but clearly she is doing something right.

The Vices: Pia’s unique vision was showcased alongside a fresh-made strawberry martini offered by Benitto’s as a welcome drink to art lovers and wanderers-in. A few sips later, Benitto himself came around to welcome guests to the gallery, eventually encountering yours truly hanging out on the patio of the restaurant with my… um, asthma inhaler.

After discovering we used the same type of device, and devoting the proper amount of delighted conversation to the subject, Benitto ignored the fact that I already had a full drink by my side and brought me another. This time the star of the cocktail was passion fruit, sweet and tangy with plenty of punch.

If the whole conversation was a ruse to get me munchied enough to suddenly want a French dip sandwich, it worked to perfection. Piled high with savory roast beef and Swiss cheese and served on a crusty baguette, it was quite the savory and satisfying sandwich. The French dip is also among the more fun sandwiches to eat, giving oversized children like myself a socially acceptable method of playing with their food.

The evening at an end, I wished Pia the best of luck with her blooming career and saluted Benitto on a fine establishment. All told, it was quite the enjoyable Tuesday night.

The Verdict: Benitto’s is another outstanding option in the city’s Marina Vallarta district, offering a full menu of Italian favorites along with a selection of scrumptious sandwiches and salads. With special events like Pia’s pop-up gallery on the schedule, the restaurant adds another layer of interest to what is already an appealing atmosphere…maybe I’ll catch you there.

Benitto’s Paninoteca Bar – Av. Paseo de la Marina Sur 121, Marina Vallarta.

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AJ Freeman
AJ Freeman is an adventurous spirit, serial friendmaker, and general enthusiast. He lives his everyday life hoping to demonstrate the nearly infinite potential for discovery and wonder on this small wet rock orbiting a dim yellow star in the backwoods of the Milky Way.