Watertown Daily Times Review: Cook 'Em, Dano's

It’s no secret that I love a breakfast out, maybe because most mornings, I eat it at my desk like a chump (if chump equals hard-working, typical American). So when I find out that an unexpected place is serving breakfast, I am there like white on rice, baby.

When some good friends who live in Black River said they’d heard that Dano’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Felt’s Mills was serving breakfast seven days a week, we quickly made plans to try it out. Not a lot of pizzerias are tackling breakfast, so we were eager to find out if the menu would be all breakfast pizzas and egg-stuffed calzones, or what. Not surprisingly, there is a pizza omelet and breakfast pizza, but this menu goes far and above those expectations.

Dano’s serves the Fort Drum crowd as well as locals, and I love that they’ve gone to the trouble to upgrade their spacious dining room with slate tile flooring, terracotta-colored walls, and booths decorated with wrought iron details. Yes, the soda dispensers along the back wall kind of interrupt the Italian charm, but A for effort, you know?
The Sunday morning we visited, another large family was enjoying a noisy, but friendly repast, and a couple smaller tables came in and out, but it wasn’t crowded. They should get ready for that to change.

The breakfast menu is vast, and I hope you’re good at making decisions, because the choices of cheese and bread for each breakfast entrée are even varied. And the platters (!) of food that will hit your table are just as gargantuan, so you may want to bring your whole platoon to help you eat.

I have an affection for biscuits and sausage gravy ($6.99) dating back to my two too-brief years of college in rural North Carolina. At Dano’s, that gravy was what I call savory incarnate – salty, fatty and creamy, with a powerful punch of black pepper. You could really taste the sausage in each bite, and the biscuit underneath was done right – fluffy and buttery, a perfect base camp for pure decadence. I got the half deluxe order with two eggs and Mexican cheese on top to bump up the richness to Himalayan levels, and my diet cringed appropriately.
The breakfast bowl ($8.99) could easily serve two and every ingredient played an important role, with everything in balance and nothing overshadowed. Sausage was ordered with this, though, and we couldn’t account for it anywhere. But there was still plenty to like in that bowl – the onions, mushrooms and peppers were all cooked perfectly and had lots of flavor, and the crispy home fries held their own with the eggs and the thick blanket of melty, gooey cheddar.

The breakfast quesadilla with ham ($7.49) was filled with a lot more zest and generous fillings than I would have wagered, given the price. Once again, the veggies in this were well-seasoned and cooked crisp-tender so they sung in and of themselves and weren’t just tasteless bystanders to the eggs, cheese and meat. This baby was fat and griddled up crunchy on the outside, like you would want.

Pancakes ($2.49 for one cake) were fairly ordinary, but sweet and fluffy. The side of bacon ($2.79) had good flavor and was cooked perfectly – not too crispy nor still limp.
The bacon, egg and American cheese on an English muffin sandwich ($4.99) was served on a homemade English muffin made by some sort of kitchen ninja (or, you know, Mr. Rick's Bakery, in Watertown). That puppy was extraordinary – buttery, with a satisfying chew, a crunchy exterior and a gorgeously airy interior. The diner who ordered this also asked for her bacon extra crispy, and her wish was granted. We like that.

A bacon, onion and American cheese omelet ($4.99) was well-seasoned and not greasy, the international hallmarks of well made omelets. Again, those onions were fresh and offered sharp/sweet personality, and there was enough bacon in there that you could definitely taste it – this is no bacon bits joint.

Breakfast for six came to $60.59, and our waitress, Roxanne, was a little brusque, but very efficient and sharp – she handled every special request (save the sausage in the breakfast bowl) with ease. And the sausage omission was most likely a kitchen snafu rather than any fault of hers. Those prices were more than reasonable for such big portions, in a bright and comfortable setting.

I give Dano’s a seven on the Big Hungry Shelby scale for breakfast – above average, and in fact, earlier this week, just randomly one morning, I wished I was having breakfast there. Le sigh – such is the life of a working drone stuck eating a boring, healthy breakfast at her desk. With a morning repast this good, I can’t wait to go back, because they have a poutine pizza. Yeah. Gravy and fries on a pizza – be still my heart failure!
Dano's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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