The Irvine Towers will soon be home to Benny & Mary’s – a new whimsical restaurant concept created by Orange County-based husband and wife restaurateur duo Cynthia Vigil and Chad Reinhardt. 

With a grand opening set for October, Benny and Mary’s will debut an elevated lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menu curated by Chef Matthew Resler.

Resler’s identity as a chef can be found in the fictional namesake behind Benny and Mary’s concept. After more than 14 years of experience in the U.S. Marine Corps and law enforcement, a life changing event inspired Resler to pursue his culinary dream. Since then, Resler has earned tenure as an Executive Chef and culinary consultant for multiple establishments around the nation, including Pomme Frite in Palm Springs.  

For lunch at Benny and Mary’s, guests will find bright dishes that feature locally sourced ingredients. A perfect example of Resler’s culinary repertoire can be seen in the chopped Kale Salad with green and purple kale, red onion, yellow bell pepper, heirloom tomatoes, English cucumber, avocado, crispy quinoa and an agave mustard vinaigrette.

Another lunch favorite is the Korean Short Rib Tacos with bulgogi-braised short rib, house-made kimchi, gochujang aioli and fried garlic.

Korean Short Rib Tacos at Benny and Mary’s.

Much like Resler’s carefully curated menu, the concept behind Benny and Mary’s is simple yet vibrant, explains Vigil. Together, Vigil and Reinhardt have now established more than a half dozen frequented O.C. haunts, including Toast Kitchen and Bar and Mimosas Brunch and Dinner.  

As for the theme, Vigil explained that Benny and Mary’s plays on the fictitious characterization of two eclectic homeowners in which guests are invited to immerse themselves within their residence. 

Vigil promises a sophisticated and whimsical experience.    

“Orange County diners will soon have the opportunity to break bread with Benny and Mary, two very eccentric individuals whose space is quite eclectic, yet surprisingly comfortable,” Vigil explained. “We are confident that this wholly unique space with a fabulous atmosphere will captivate with its vibrant energy and whimsical sophistication.”

For dinner, Resler continues the theme of international vibrancy, bringing guests the flavors of Thai-style cuisine, with Thai Mussel Pot with Prince Edward Island mussels, garlic, shallots and leeks tossed in a coconut-lemongrass broth with micro wasabi, served with toasted baguettes.

Thai Mussel Pot at Benny and Mary’s.

However, Benny and Mary’s dinner menu caters to elevated takes on traditional fare including Resler’s Muffaletta with capicola, mortadella, salami, pistachio pesto, artichoke tapenade, wild arugula and roasted garlic aioli on focaccia. 

Guests will also salivate over the Drunken Goat Burger with an 8-ounce all-beef patty, wine-infused onions, roasted garlic aioli, wild arugula and tomato jam on a brioche bun.

Other entrees include Bucatini Pasta with house-made fennel sausage, whipped ricotta and pistachio pesto; and Short Rib Osso Buco with 12-hour braised short rib, seasonal vegetables and amaretto-butternut squash puree with a port demi-glace.

And on weekends, Benny and Mary’s brunch. 

Benny and Mary’s will feature a Saturday and Sunday brunch with dishes like a pork belly “Eggs Benny” that features poached eggs and pork belly, topped with wild arugula and pink peppercorn hollandaise on English muffins.

As for other brunch bites, Resler also highly recommends the Butter-Poached Lobster Deviled Eggs, the Confit Duck Hash, the Wine-Poached Pear Labneh with Fruit & Granola, and the Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits with Chorizo Gravy. 

While Benny and Mary may be fictional characterizations, Resler’s attention to detail in the kitchen is anything but fictional. 

Orange County residents may want to bring a welcoming gift. 

Benny and Mary’s is located in Irvine Towers at 18420 Von Karman Avenue.

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