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Benchmark’s out-of-the-way location has been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the pizzeria hasn’t really had to compete with, say, a nearby Dopo or Pizzaiolo. On the other hand, the restaurant flies almost completely under the radar among non-Kensingtonians. But Benchmark’s well-blistered, crisp-bottomed “Neo-Neapolitan” pizzas are well worth a trip to Kensington’s Colusa Circle neighborhood. So are the seasonal vegetable dishes, the comforting house-made pastas (try the “priest stranglers” with Bolognese sauce), and the best-in-class kids’ menu. We appreciate the warm, easy-going service and the way the Benchmark feels more approachable and less precious than many of its Cal-Italian counterparts in Oakland or Berkeley — despite the fact that the food is just as good and the sourcing of ingredients just as conscientious.

— Luke Tsai

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