Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Go Ahead, Name Your Sandwich

Danny’s Delicatessen
Newport News, Virginia

Folks name things they love.  Their kids.  Their pets.  Their boats.

Their significant others' fun parts.

So when you run across a sandwich with a name, you know you have something special.

Of course, this wasn't the first time I'd eaten at Danny's Deli.

I discovered it when I was a snot-nosed college kid attending nearby Christopher Newport University.

Now, I eat at Danny's whenever I'm in "Bad News" and have the chance.

It's cheap, it has a homey atmosphere and good food.

Scratch that.  Danny's has GREAT food.

I rolled up about 1:30 in the afternoon and the place was packed.  I was escorted to the back by the same hostess that's worked there ever since I started patronizing Danny's a little over ten years ago.

She recognized me and asked me how I was.  I'm sure I look a lot less hungover nowadays than I did back during college.

I didn't need to look at the menu, but I did anyway.

It's the same laminated, one-page, two-sided one they've had forever.

My favorite Danny's sandwich is the "Billy."  It's grilled roast beef, pastrami, cheese, their "special sauce," fried onions and lettuce and tomato on a sub roll.

Let's just say that if I was shipwrecked on an island, I would want Billy to be there.

But the the truth is, I've never had anything bad at Danny's.

Another one of my favorites is a footlong sub called a "Mick."

No, this isn't a drunken Irishman on a bun.  It's a foot-long cheeseburger.

How awesome is that?

Another favorite is their foot-long fried chicken sub. 

For the ladies, they have the "Jan," the "Felicia" and a few others that usually feature turkey or ham.

They also have a great reuben, knockwurst, lox and other traditional deli favorites.

And if you're not into subrolls, you can pick your own bread.  Rye, pumpernickel, etc.

While you're trying to decide, the waitress will bring you a bowl of their homemade pickles.

They're salty, vinegary and crisp.

It's impossible for me to sit there and not eat all of them.  And who would want to try anyway?

While I looked over the menu, I ordered a Killians.

Nobody really goes to a deli to drink, but they have your standard American fare plus some foreign beers like Heineken and Becks.

They also have, from what I understand, a decent list of mostly Virginia wines if you're into that.

Because I knew I was getting the Billy, the only real choice I was making was the side.

I thought about their potato salad, which is great.  I thought about their onion rings which are big, fluffy and delicious.

But I decided on the fries.

Why?  I wanted to take my fries and dip them in "Mr. Mustard!"

You don't find Mr. Mustard everywhere, but it's an extra horseradishy, extra spicy mustard that comes from Ohio.

Danny's mustard choice alone shows how much they care about their food.

But they care about everything that's important.

Their decor is tasteful, you know what city your in when you eat there and being there feels like going to an old friends' house.

There are family photos of the owners' kids and grandkids on the walls, there are photos of sports heroes from the 60's when Danny's opened up, a few sports team pennants -- and there's even a framed copy of the local newspaper that came out the day after Kennedy was shot.

There's also an old photo of the 1966 Mustang convertible the owner bought when it was new.

Those weren't super-expensive cars back then, but he was so proud of it, it had to be put on the wall.

When my Billy came out, I smiled and said, "Hello, old friend" right before sinking my teeth into the sandwich.

Every time I take a first bite of the Billy, I wonder why I don't make it a point to come to Newport News more than just a couple times a year.

First, you taste the sweet flavor of their special sauce, cheese, tomato and fried onions mixing together.

Right after that, you taste the meat.

And the meat is not shy.  It's salty, juicy and smells incredible.

It's probably the best pastrami I've ever had, and the roast beef is also top notch.

The bun holds up too, but not too much.

It won't fall apart on you, but it absorbs every last bit of juice from the sandwich and gets perfectly moist and warm.

I ate every bite.  Every bite of the sub, the fries and the pickles.

I even thought briefly about asking for the menu again to order another one to bring home.

But I didn't.

The waitress brought me my check, and I walked up to the cashier to pay.

They have t-shirts now.  Those are new. 

The cashier said they didn't have one in my size though.

Darn.  I guess I'll have to keep going back.

Rating:  Will One Day Buy the Shirt No Matter What

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