What’s on the menu at Danny’s Pizza Tavern in Little Italy, an ode to classic American pizzerias

What’s on the menu at Danny’s Pizza Tavern in Little Italy, an ode to classic American pizzerias

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Name: Danny’s Pizza Tavern
Contact: 611 College St., dannyspizzatavern.com, @dannyspizzatavern
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Owners: Danny Barna, Anna Hopkins and some silent partners
Chefs: Jonathan Pde
Seating: 38 inside, 24 on the patio
Accessibility: Fully accessible

Co-owners Danny Barna and Anna Hopkins both have full-time jobs—he’s an editor, she’s an actor. Yet, as if they weren’t busy enough, the couple decided to open a restaurant. “We wanted to create a friendly neighbourhood-tavern vibe. It’s welcoming to everyone, serviceable for all occasions,” says Barna. “You can come here with your family to crush a pie. Or, if you want to come for a fancy date, you can do that too.”

Hopkins and Barna, partners in business and life
The food

Danny’s does classic American dining. The signature dish is tavern pie, a thin crust–style pizza cut into small squares, popular in midwestern cities like Chicago and St. Louis. And a lot of the other menu items have a distinct American sensibility: burgers, french fries, caesar salad, mozzarella sticks. To execute the menu, Barna and Hopkins connected with chef Jonathan Pde, who most recently worked in the kitchens at Piano Piano and the Park Hyatt. Here’s a look at what he’s sending out of the kitchen.

A classic American caesar salad, with deep-fried croutons, smoked bacon and shaved parmesan. “We added these big, fat silver anchovies on top,” says Barna. “We want it to be accessible, but a bit more elevated than a caesar you might get somewhere else in Little Italy.” $16


A classic pepperoni pie. “Most pizzas cook for about a minute,” says Pde. “We want ours to be crispier and have more structure, so we cook them for four.” $28


The mushroom pie has a mix of cremini, shiitake and king oyster. It’s finished with lemon zest, chives and porcini dust. $28


“Some of the city’s slices are super heavy, big commitments,” says Barna. “We like our pizza lighter. That way, a slice can be eaten as a complement to our other dishes”


The burger patty is made from half chuck, half brisket, sourced from Off the Bone. It’s topped with classic ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, American cheddar. “Everyone in the city is doing smash burgers,” says Barna. “We wanted to do a fat, traditional burger.” $22


The vinegar chicken is rubbed with an in-house spice, cooked for 20 minutes and finished in the pizza oven to give it a nice crisp. It sits in a sweet-and-sour vinegar-based sauce along with confit potatoes, pepperoncini and roasted shallots. “This is our signature dish, along with our pizza,” says Barna. “It’s based on a dish from Bernie’s, a tavern in Brooklyn.” $52


The mozzarella sticks are made in house. They’re breaded with panko, deep-fried and garnished with parmesan and chives. “We make them nice and thick,” says Pde. $15


Inside the sticks: Australian mozzarella


The frozen key lime pie on a stick is a fresh take on classic dessert. $8
The drinks

For beverage options, Danny’s offers local beer (plus Moretti) on tap, an interesting wine list that ranges from spendy bottles to chuggable by-the-glass options, and classic cocktails (including what may be the city’s biggest Aperol spritz).

The painkiller is a mix of orange juice, rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice. “It’s another American classic, a little nod to the tiki bar,” says Barna. “I really wanted to avoid doing an artisanal cocktail program and just do something classic and accessible, which fits with the vibe of an old school tavern.” $15


The Aperol spritz is served in a massive fishbowl glass. “On a Friday or Saturday night, when you walk into the restaurant, there are big orange jewels at each table because everyone is drinking one,” says Barna. “I haven’t seen a Spritz served in a glass this big in the city yet.” $18


Danny’s has an extensive wine program: sparkling, white, rosé, orange, red—you name it.


The space

Back in May, Barna and Hopkins took out a five-year lease on the space formerly occupied by Virtuous Pizza, which came with a pizza oven. Most of the 1,400-square-foot interior needed an overhaul, so they got to work, adding wood-panel walls and finger-flute banquettes. For the decor, Barna and Hopkins borrowed inspiration from classic American taverns: candles, stained glass, paintings, family photos.

“We’re trying to create something that feels warm, cozy and lived in, not austere and frigid,” says Barna. “We made sure that most of the pieces on the wall had some sort of personal significance to us. It would have felt disingenuous to go on Amazon for a week and stuff this place with crap.”

Hopkins bought the artwork on the left about 10 years ago in Rhode Island. “When we were deciding on how to decorate Danny’s, I was like, ‘Okay, it’s time to move the pizza-dog painting into the restaurant.'”


Barna wanted the place to feel like a traditional tavern, homey and lived-in, so he decorated the walls with a few family photos, visible at the bottom left.