Happy New Year!
And what better way to just basically continue the food-and-drink-fest-that-is-the-holiday-season than by hitting up an Italian restaurant with huge portions and potent drinks? We know how to live, folks. I mean, until we all die of heart attacks, liver damage and high cholesterol, that is. Yay cheese and carbs!
So, yes, the first WTGW of 2016 takes us to the North Canton location of Danny Boy’s. There are actually four other locations in the Cleveland/Akron area – Rocky River, Chesterland, Sandusky and Broadview Heights. Their website says the chain started at the Rocky River location in 1991 – which shocked the hell out of me, because the interior of the North Canton location seemed to be dated well before that time. I mean, it’s not quite Gus’s Chalet … but it’s also not the sports bar they appear to be on some of the photos on their website by any means.
(Gotta be sure to start out the new year with our weekly digs at good ole Gus’s Chalet. It just doesn’t seem right otherwise)
But seriously, the place is way smaller on the inside than I thought it would be – both from the photos online and also just from the outside of the building. It’s like you walk in expecting a large dining room and separate bar area … and what you get instead is a room divided down the middle by a short wall and a glass partition, with the dark bar area on one side, and an even darker dining room on the other. Cozy. So, I wonder, what are they using all the space in the back of the building for? I mean, unless the kitchen is the size of a small yacht, I have to think there’s some giant dance floor/gym area back there that the staff is using between orders.
Also, if you don’t like the ambiance of Sinatra music with your meal, you might want to dine elsewhere. Or bring headphones.
Anyway, Danny Boy’s is known for their pizza and Italian food – but keep in mind that they menu is far more than that. Like 18 pages more than that. In the mood for calzones or stromboli? Got it. A big salad? Yep. Sandwiches, subs and appetizers? Sure thing. Burgers or ribs? No worries. Something called a “Woogie Melt”? Yeah, I have absolutely no idea what that is, but it’s on the menu.
Eventually I think we all got to the point where we were just kind of flipping the pages aimlessly and figured we would just point to an entree on whatever page we were resting on when the server next came to our table.
Amanda and Jerrid had gotten there early and had a drink and appetizer at the bar before the rest of us arrived, then just migrated to a nearby larger table in the same area once we got there. They had started with Captain and cokes for drinks … which Jerrid promptly switched away from after Shane ordered a Long Island and Jerrid saw it was served in a “cool” mason jar. It was like a repeat of Rush Hour Grille.
Ted also started with Captain and coke, until it occurred to him that they were super tasty and he would drink them too fast … and since he was our driver and we were a good half hour from home then maybe wasn’t the best plan. Smart guy, that one. He switched to beer, even though the primarily domestic non-craft beer list was somewhat difficult for him to navigate. Because we all know Ted doesn’t enjoy Miller Lite.
We started out with an order of breadsticks for the table … which, let’s be honest here, these things they call bread sticks are more like bread pillows. And they were heavenly. Shane’s comment was that they’re “just the right kind of soft dough.” Whatever that means. All it translates to me is that I could eat just a full plate of these if left alone with them. Delicious.
For our meals, it was the tale of two orders at our table: the pizzas vs the pastas. It’s like the Jets vs the Sharks, but without the music. Or stellar choreography.
Representing the pizzas we had Shane with a NY style pizza with pepperoni and sweet red peppers, and Ted with a Chicago style deep dish.
On the pasta side, Amanda got the “Spotlight Peppers and Pasta,” I had the “Guys and Dolls Baked Penne,”and Jerrid got the “Old Blue Eyes Mac & Cheese.”
I think you’re probably sensing by now that the whole Sinatra theme goes far beyond the choice of music.
Everyone ended up being relatively happy with their orders. Ted for once got a pizza that he didn’t have to pick the cheese off the top of before consuming. Although the cheese does come baked on the inside of the pizza – a fact that at least he was aware of beforehand or else that first bite could’ve been ugly. He ended up taking about 1/3 of his pizza home with him, because a medium was way too much. And judging by the take home box that I lifted as we were walking out, I can’t say I blame him.
Shane wasn’t as crazy about the sauce on his pizza – he likes a sweeter sauce, and this wasn’t that. But he still ate his entire medium pizza by himself. I’m not sure exactly what that says other than he was hungry and it’s still pizza, so he wasn’t going to waste it.
And he was the only one without a to-go box when we left, as Amanda, Jerrid and I all took at least half of our meals home with us. It was all good – but it was like we each had some weird strain of regenerating pasta in our bowls that grew back as soon as we took a few bites. Seriously, after at least 20 minutes of eating it looked like we had just really been using our forks to mix things around in each of our bowls and not transporting any of the contents to our mouths.
I, mean, really – compare these to the pasta photos above.
**update** Just a note, those left overs ended up being one large and two small meals for me after this trip. What? That means there are easily three to four portions served there. In one bowl. If anyone can finish that in one sitting I imagine a wheelbarrow is necessary to get them to the car afterwards. I’m not sure if I would be proud or horrified of that person.
All in all Danny Boy’s was a good place for huge portions of Italian food … but just not the dining atmosphere we typically gravitate to. The service was OK – although, let’s face it, after last week’s inability to get beverages – or really attention of any kind – our server here really just had to show up more than twice all night and we would be impressed. They should thank Mason Jar for totally lowering our expectations.
But I do actually kind of wish there was a location closer to our house just so we could do carry out – with the huge menu and the amount of food you get for your money, I think this could easily become a go-to staple for quick no-hassle dinners. Or do you think we could convince them to just deliver us orders of bread pillows like once a week?
Picked by: Steph
Drinks: While the beer list wasn’t overly impressive, the specialty cocktails were a hit at our table. Although, let’s be honest, after last week’s issues we were just happy to have beverages of any kind this time around.
Food: Come hungry. And bring 15 of your friends to help you eat one meal. I think Shane was the only one at the table who didn’t leave with a to-go box … because, well, Shane.
Service: Something else we were just happy to have at all after last week’s pick. Danny Boy’s should give a huge thank you nod to Mason Jar for making regular things like checking in a table seem awesome.
Overall: Another example of how one part of the place can kill it for a few people in the group. While the food was good and the service decent – the atmosphere at this location just wasn’t what a group like ours would return for.
Next Pick: Amanda