Benny Balidemaj worked his way up in the Manhattan restaurant scene for years, bussing tables early in his career, later working as a waiter at Mario Batali's Babbo Ristorante. Eventually he became manager of Tribeca's Pierino and then Osso Bucco before assuming part-ownernship of its sister restaurant, Nino's Tuscany. It was during his four-year tenure there that he fell in love with Tuscan cuisine and decided to start his own business in North Jersey.
Along with his wife, Vicky, Balidemaj opened B.V. Tuscany on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, lending both of their first initials to the venture.
"It's a good feeling," says Balidemaj, who often welcomes new diners with his own homemade grappa, on the house. The gesture is part of creating a cozy atmosphere, he said. He's more comfortable in a place of his own, too. For one, the 12-year Rutherford resident and father of four is glad for the shorter commute.
Bold, cheery tiles light up the dining room, a leftover detail of B.V.'s predecessor, the Italian restaurant Duomo. New additions are warm walls the hue of terra cotta lined with Tuscan landscapes and amply stocked wine racks that surround the back of the small dining room.
Both features create an inviting, intimate setting for diners to feast on homemade pastas, focaccia and breadsticks, all paired with rich entrées. Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola seasoned with rosemary has proved a quick favorite, along with Crespelle alla Fiorentina, a crepe with spinach ricotta, and Pappardelle with filet mignon meatballs.