WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? PIZZA AT DANNY’S

061115dannys4Danny’s has been using the same tomato sauce recipe since 1969 on its pizza. Sidewalk seating is available, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061115dannys3Danny Murphy had his hands in the restaurant business long before the current incarnation of Danny’s Steak House on Red Bank’s West Side.

Murphy’s mother owned a place called the Friendly Luncheonette on West Front Street, where he worked in the 1950’s. In his teens, he learned pizza-making a few doors away, at Brother’s Restaurant. He opened his own restaurant around the corner, on Bridge Avenue, in 1969, starting with Italian dishes, and later adding steak and fish to the menu.

It’s his pizza, though, that PieHole remembers first eating 23 years ago. 061115dannys1Danny Murphy chatting with customers enjoying lunch at the bar. Below, the sushi platter. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

061115dannys6Back then, Danny’s was a homey, stucco-walled place to bring the kids for pasta and pizza. But changes to decor and menu are bound to happen when you’re in business for 46 years. The dining room is now sophisticated and elegant, with a stunning silver-painted ceiling and a long leather banquette lining a wall.

Today, you’re more likely to find suit-clad office workers dining at the bar at lunchtime than  young families in the dining room.

Our waitress brought us a specials menu offering a $15 ‘Mad Men Lunch,’ available Monday through Friday afternoons, and a Sushi Lunch for the same price. The Mad Men includes beer, wine or a vodka martini with soup or salad and an entree such as a panini, wrap, burger or pasta dish.

Opting for a working lunch sans booze, we ordered a pizza and a few sushi rolls. PieHole was curious to see if the sauce on the pizza was as remembered.

The crust, chewy to the bite but crispy underneath, was just the same. The fresh, full-flavored tomato sauce covered with just the right amount of cheese elicited an eye-roll and moan that only come with complete satisfaction. Yup, Danny’s still makes a great pizza, and at $10, it’s not a bad price for lunch.

The sushi platter was lovely to behold, but an effort for us to tuck into, stuffed as we were on pizza. Still, we forged on, chopsticks in hand, to move from Italian fare to Japanese. The salmon roll with avocado and the dragon roll were both nicely made and pretty to look at.

Expansive menu choices give hungry epicureans much to nosh on here. “Filet mignon spring roll with Thai sweet-chili chutney and garlic dipping sauce,” anyone? How about “Mom’s Meatballs”?

Now surrounded on three sides by the West Side Lofts, Danny’s is at 11 Bridge Avenue in a onetime firehouse, and the owner lives right upstairs.