Wow! From GQ Magazine Interview Dec 8 2022.. Thanks so much Damien :)
6 Years on SE Division
A Chef lives his dream
Young Benito was destined to become a fine chef. But what does an 11 year-old know of that? As a boy, he simply helped his mother in the kitchen and knew that he loved doing it. One day stands apart for him from those early years: the moment his mother lovingly told him he had a true gift for food. From that day, Benito was determined to master Italian cuisine—his passion—and open a restaurant of his own.
At 18, he moved to Portland, Oregon and trained with the area’s best Italian chefs, soaking up all the knowledge he could. Along with technical expertise, these masters inspired him with their shared philosophy—quality authentic Italian food must be made with peak-of-the-season fresh ingredients. This was key. Years later, Benito became the chef/owner of his first restaurant, Bellino Pasta & Cafe in Hillsboro. There he developed a following of devoted customers and his became known as the only “authentic” Italian restaurant in Hillsboro.
One day, just by chance, Benito happened to come across an available restaurant space on SE Division’s restaurant row. This was where Portland’s foodies came to satisfy their tastebuds. It was an amazing opportunity and he jumped on it. Now SE Division has its own authentic Italian eatery which has opened to rave reviews. Casa Italia on Division is just what the street needed to round out its eclectic assortment of restaurants. And for Benito? It’s the awesome realization of a lifelong dream.