Spotlight: Benvenuto Cafe

Because this site focuses on news, the businesses that have been around a while — and that make this neighborhood special — don’t get the coverage they should. The Spotlight series is a feature for those OGs.

Perry Mallas opened Benvenuto, the diner-slash-takeout-spot-slash-all-night-cafe, 15 years ago, and recently brought his son Bill in as his partner. To celebrate the anniversary, they are toasting neighbors with free drinks on Thursday. Stop by and say congratulations.

How did you get started in this business?
My family had a diner in Brooklyn – my uncle and father – in Midwood, very famous – it was called the Caraville Restaurant. Everybody knew that restaurant, even customers here. It was open from 1974 til about 2000. I eventually left the family business because I wanted to do something on my own.

I miss the family. It was really a family place. I grew up there. My father was the chef and he would wake me up at 4 a.m. to cook with him on the weekends. He would say, “If you don’t go to school, you’re going to be working hard like me everyday.” In 1998 I opened Benvenuto on 23rd and Broadway and I was there for 15 years.

When did you open? And why here?
In 2008, my contractor found this location and said I have a great location for you. I never knew about this neighborhood at all. I think this is the best neighborhood now. But of course before when I was on 23rd I thought that was the best. Now I live here, on West Street, for about 13 years. I raised my kids in Manhasset and commuted for years so once they graduated I sold the house and came down here. And now Bill is here with me.

Why is it called Benvenuto if you are Greek? (Perry moved here as a 6-year-old from Chios.)
When I opened my first restaurant, it was a Italian franchise – but it didn’t do anything for me so I changed it. But the restaurant had beautiful ceramic tiles in the front that spelled out “Benvenuto” — welcome in Italian. So that’s how I got the name. Then I figured, let me try something Italian and cool.

What are you known for?
A lot of the kids — I call them kids but they are in their 20s — come here late at night, and the weekend nights are so much fun here. It has a nice young vibe. But I can’t stay past 10:30 or I am shot.

We are also known for our paninis, salads, pastas, burgers. When I first started it was only paninis, salads, pizza and coffee. And then I started adding. We had a grill, so I said let’s do burgers. Then all the sudden we had a full diner menu – and people love that. We do a lot of delivery to the offices. We got it all. One stop shop.

Why did you decide to go 24 hours?
I had both places at the same time for four years. When I lost the lease on 23rd — TD Bank offered three times what I was paying so the landlord didn’t renew — I had 25 people working there – good people who were with me for many years. I said to them, “I love you but I can’t take everybody. Are you willing to do an overnight shift?” So that’s why I became 24/7. I have people here who have worked for me for 20 years and longer.

All night is good! It’s fun. It’s challenging sometimes. The night staff can’t do it for too many years. They get burnt out easily. But I am going to keep with it – absolutely. It’s us! That’s who we are now.

What’s the most satisfying part of what you do?
I love the interaction with the people – that’s the favorite part. There was a teacher here who was a good customer. She gets married, then she comes in one day and she’s yelling at me – “I’m pregnant!” I enjoy that.

Your very favorite item right now?
Fettuccini carbonara – I put salmon on it. I don’t cook at the restaurant. I have the experience but I only cook when I really have to. My son went to culinary school in Rhode Island.

Tribeca has obviously changed a lot since you started. How have the changes affected your business?
There are a lot more families. It was kind of quiet when I first got here. There wasn’t as much going on. I see of course everything went through the roof real estate wise. The rent is high of course and food costs are high right now. But we are coming back from the pandemic — we were fortunate enough to survive it. We kept ourselves going. It helped that we already did delivery. We were able to keep the majority of our employees.

Where do you eat/drink/shop around here?
I just tried Fouquet’s and I love it. My wife discovered it and it’s great. The Dover sole was excellent. Very nice atmosphere. Even the chairs are so comfortable. I look at all that, you know what I am saying? It was very relaxing and a nice crowd. Very cool guy at the bar.

What does the future hold?
We have four kiosks in shipping containers: Flatiron Plate, Astor Plate, Taco Madre Albie’s at Albie Square and Willoughby Square. I won the bid to build a whole group of them with my design. It keeps me busy. And it helps. We prepare things here for the kiosks.

I’ve been taking more time off and I can because I have a great manager here, Antonio Jannet, and everybody love him. He calls himself Tony Benvenuto. And eventually Bill will take over here. Once he does, I’m going to retire to Mattituck. And I like Greece too. We’ve been going to Greece every summer. We are a third generation restaurant family and listen, I am ok with that. I feel good about that. I am with him all the time, which I love. Everybody can’t be a doctor or a lawyer. It’s tough some times because it’s hard for us to get away at the same time, but it’s great.

Previously in this series:
••• Korin
••• Hal Bromm Gallery
••• Tortola Salon
••• R & Company
••• Duane Park Patisserie
••• Chambers Street Wines
••• Floratech
••• Estancia 460
••• Boomerang Toys
••• Real Pilates
••• Church Street School for Music and Art
••• Kings Pharmacy
••• Church Street Surplus
••• Lance Lappin Salon
••• Joseph Carini Carpets
••• Balloon Saloon
••• Fountain Pen Hospital
••• Chambers Pottery
••• Square Diner
••• Double Knot
••• Philip Williams Posters




  1. We love Benvenuto!! My kids love going there late at night!! the owner and manager are wonderful people! People who work there also are great! Its always clean, food always good too!!! I am happy they stay open 24/7. They became a staple on Greenwich Street. Good people.

  2. We love this place and all the staff!! Sometimes we have breakfast, lunch and dinner there. We loved that they stayed open during the pandemic and for this reason, we will always be loyal to them!! They are like family ❤️

  3. Benvenuto is the best. Love having it in the neighborhood.

  4. Wow I did not know this. I’ve been in tribeca for almost 30 years and thought it was a “bodega”. Now I have to pass by and wow 24 hours. I’m glad you did this feature.

  5. Benvenuto is wonderful – my favorite is the hot pastrami Reuben sandwich.

  6. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary Perry, Billy and your entire wonderful staff!! I’ve been in Tribeca since 1975 and Benvenuto is hands down the best place to ever come to this neighborhood!! It’s a fantastic place with great food, great service and a great staff!! Thank you for always being there! Tribeca wouldn’t be the same without you!! Here’s to another 15 years and more!!