New owner believes 3rd time’s the charm for Tega Cay restaurant

joverman@fortmilltimes.comAugust 20, 2013 

— A corner shop in Stonecrest, near Walmart in Tega Cay, has changed hands three times, each time keeping an Italian theme.

It could be a sort of revolving Little Italy. The newest owner, Danny LaFranca, who opened Danny’s Pizza and Pasta in June, jokes, “Maybe a mobster is buried underneath there.”

LaFranca said he believes he will succeed where an Italian deli and another pizza place have failed.

“It’s a great location,” said LaFranca. “If you’ve got the right person and the right business, it’s a no-brainer.”

Danny’s offers 10- and 18-inch pizzas as well as pizza by the slice, all made in a brick oven. A “frequent buyer” program for customers offers a free 18-inch pizza for every 10 pizzas purchased.

Many of restaurants in the area claim their pizza is New York style, LaFranca said, but “my slogan is ‘New York in every bite.’ We try to give you what New York really tastes like. It’s the dough, it’s the sauce, it’s the cheese, and it’s how you put it together.”.

LaFranca should know. A Long Island native, LaFranca grew up spending his days at his uncle’s pizzeria and his grandparents’ bakery learning to cook and bake. He previously owned a café in New York before moving to Fort Mill in 1997. He also owned Carolina Bistro in Indian Land.

The real star of Danny’s pizza menu is The MJ, the restaurant’s version of a “white” pizza, featuring garlic, spinach, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. The flavor of the garlic is strong without being overwhelming and the crust is nicely chewy. For $18.95, the pizza is enough to feed a family, or a couple of people with some slices left over for a guilty-pleasure breakfast.

LaFranca doesn’t buy into the theory that New York style pizza crust can only be made in New York because of the water.

“The water in Tega Cay and Fort Mill is good, too,” he said.

The menu offers plenty of options beyond pizza, including Stromboli, manicotti and fettuccini alfredo. Kids can select smaller portions of food off the kid’s menu for a reduced price, including chicken tenders with fries, a 10-inch pizza or spaghetti for $5.95.

The business has a family-run feel to it. Danny is typically behind the counter and his two daughters work in the shop when they are home from college. His wife works behind the scenes making all of the desserts, including cannoli, cheesecake and tiramisu.

Right now, Danny’s Pizza and Pasta does not offer delivery, but they hope to in the near future. Wine and beer are served and there is a small patio for outdoor dining.

Danny’s is located at 2435 W. Hwy. 160, Suite 112. For more information, go to www.dannyspizzapasta.com or call 547-9700.

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