If you've never been to Danny Boy's you're in for a big surprise.
Danny Boy's is actually a chain restaurant that started in the heart of Rocky River, Ohio. Laurie Chamoun opened the Boardman location after visiting the original location with her father, Camille, where Camille said this is just what we need in Youngstown. Now one year later, Danny Boy's is serving some pretty amazing food that you won't find anywhere else in the area. The atmosphere is warm and inviting while bringing back memories of those "Rat Pack Days" when good friends got together to enjoy good food and good music. The walls at Danny Boy's are adorned with memorabilia from that era, as well as a few family mementos tucked in and around.
Danny Boy's is known for their award winning pizza but their menu is full of dishes that make it very hard to decide what to order. I was treated to a little bit of everything. Appetizers and Salads. Pizza and Pasta. It was a great day at Danny Boys.
The food kept coming and coming, dish after dish, pie after pie, and with every jaw-dropping temptation, my eyes got bigger and my mouth couldn't wait.
As an Opening Act, if you like it hot, you've got to try the Bada Bing Buffalo Chips. As much as I love cheese, I love potato chips. At Danny Boy's, kettle chips are everywhere. They've found a way to swing kettle chips on everything from apps to pizza. They maintain that great crunch whether covered with hot sauce or smothered in cheese. They heat up those crunchy chips and drizzle them with buffalo sauce. Add some crumbled bleu cheese, a little pizza cheese, pop them in the oven and out they come, sizzling hot, in more ways than one. If you can't stand the heat, count on the kitchen. Danny Boy's serves the best, yes, it's the best, Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It's so thick, packed with spinach, chunks of artichoke, gooey cheese, served with tricolor chips and chopped homemade breadsticks. No bowl of rolls at Danny Boy's. They make the most amazing breadsticks. Shaped like giant bow ties, light and airy with a touch of garlic and parmesan, according to manager, Daniel Figueroa (no, he's not the 'Danny' in Danny Boy's), "everything is garnished with parmesan cheese". These are so good. They're an opening act, a side to a salad or a partner to the pasta. You're going to love these breadsticks.
Salads are big at Danny Boy's so you have the option of going full or half. The menu has their regular Swingin' Salads but you might also find a seasonal one or two all offering the freshest ingredients. I tried two seasonal delights; the Monterey and the Lemon Asparagus. Fresh vegetables, beautiful colors, those yummy breadsticks and awesome dressings. The Monterey Salad is so beautiful. A bed of crisp iceberg lettuce is topped with cheese, seasoned grilled chicken strips and a veggie mix of corn, peppers, tomato and cilantro. This in itself is packed with flavor and so delicious but add the cilantro lime dressing and this salad rocks. The dressing is similar to ranch but has that kick of lime that blends so well with the cilantro. It's served with the breadsticks and tricolor tortilla chips with a cup of salsa. Like no other chicken salad, this one is off the charts.
Light and lovely is the Lemon Asparagus Salad. Mixed greens are topped with tomatoes, artichokes, black olives and creamy goat cheese. The smoothness of the mild cheese is the perfect compliment to the grilled lemon asparagus that sits on top. Sprinkled with sunflower seeds then topped with a balsamic vinaigrette that brings it all together in this light, refreshing salad. And of course, those breadsticks will keep you company.
Chef Ron George has been creating food for over 20 years in the area. As Laurie introduced me, she said with a smile, "I'm very lucky to have him". I knew exactly what she meant as I continued to eat. An Italian restaurant has to have pasta and the list of Pasta Paesan dinners will tempt every diner. I was tempted with three, Old Blue Eyes Mac & Cheese, customer favorite Silvio's Creamy Chicken Angel Hair and my favorite, Stoplight Peppers & Pasta. Let me tell you, Chef George knows his pasta.
Old Blue Eyes Mac & Cheese takes macaroni and cheese to a higher place. This is a feel good pasta smothered in a yummy cheddar cheese sauce, tossed with broccoli, big bites of bacon and grilled chicken. A sprinkle of cheddar and pizza cheese on top, this is a big bowl of creamy goodness that you can't stop eating. Save one last bite of a breadstick, you'll need it to get that last drop of cheese sauce at the bottom. Got to savor every bit of this dish.
Silvio's, Laurie tells me, is a customer favorite. Angel hair pasta tossed lightly in a tomato basil cream sauce, chicken, spinach, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. There's a lot going on in this dish. Love the texture of the sun-dried tomatoes, the sauce is light and creamy and the flavors of all the ingredients meld perfectly creating a great dish that people order again and again.
My favorite of the three, Stoplight Peppers & Pasta. It smells amazing. Steaming hot and after one bite I was hooked. It tastes like a hot sausage sandwich. Fettuccini pasta, again cooked perfectly, sauteed red, yellow and green peppers, spicy sausage rounds all tossed is a delicious marinara sauce. A little spicy, a lot of flavor, breadsticks on the side. It is a hot sausage sandwich deconstructed the Danny Boy way. An excellent dish. It doesn't get better than this. But then, there are about eight other pasta dishes I haven't tried yet!
Pizza, pizza, and more pizza. Rat Pack Appetizer Pies, Main Event Pies, thin pies, thick pies. When you want pizza, try Danny Boy's. There's nothing plain about the pizza here. If you're feeling adventurous and want something different, try the Downtown Mac-n-Cheese Pasta Pie. It may sound a big strange but will definitely bring out the kid in you. If you bring the kids, don't even ask, just order this pie. Chef George makes up a batch of homemade mac and cheese with a three cheese blend and adds it to a nice thick pizza shell. Topped with a stack of kettle chips, a sprinkle of pizza cheese and cooked until the crust is golden brown. As you bite into this pie, you crunch through the chips and hit that creamy mac and cheese. It's so different that I wasn't quite sure if I liked it. One more bite. Oh ya, I like it. The crunchy, salty chips, creamy pasta. The best part is how the chips stay crunchy bite after bite. It's definitely a one-of-a-kind pizza.
If you like a big pie, go Chicago. Deep dish crust is layered with cheese, big sausage patties, yummy pizza sauce and a sprinkle of more cheese. The crust goes way up on the sides and the filling is packed with layers of spicy sausage and a delicious sauce. A big pie. If you like sausage try the Chicago.
If you're a veggie pie lover, go with Dean. Dean's is a colorful Rat Pack pie packed with flavor. Spinach, broccoli, mushroom and ricotta cheese topped with pizza cheese and Italian spices. I love the way the veggies are all chopped small. You take a bite and everything stays together with the help of the ricotta that also adds just the right creaminess. The pizza cheese sprinkled on top adds one more layer to this tasty pie.
Pepperoni lovers will delight in The Clevelander Pie. Daniel tells me this is the "backwards pizza". I can't believe this hasn't been done before. The pepperoni is on the bottom! A nice thin crust is layered with pizza cheese, lots of really thin slices of pepperoni, a little fresh garlic and basil, that amazing pizza sauce and, of course, parmesan cheese. It's Daniel's favorite and a favorite of mine as well. When it comes out it looks like a plain pizza, but like I said before, no plain pizza here.The surprise is under the sauce.
What makes Danny Boy's different then other restaurants in the area. Danny Boy's is an "Italian eatery" according to Figueroa. After tasting several dishes, I personally believe it's so much more than that. It's fun, it's casual, the portions are huge, the food is great and every dish looks like it was made just for you. I like the people at Danny Boy's and I really like the food. I like this restaurant a lot. My favorite dish? I couldn't stop eating the Stoplight Peppers & Pasta. Love, Love, LOVE this dish. You've got to try Danny Boy's. But be warned. Once you try it, you'll be back for an encore.