By Lizzie Wilcox & Andrew Wroblewski
There’s a reason the classics are regarded so highly at Jonny D’s Pizza.
The Huntington- and Greenlawn-based pizzerias have become staples in their respective communities, and it’s thanks to, in part, the perfection of classic Italian dishes like penne ala vodka, chicken cutlet parmigiana and, of course, pizza.
“We’ve perfected them all over the years,” said Jonny Dawson, owner of the pizzerias, the first of which opened at 946 New York Ave. in Huntington in February 2005. “We have the best cheeses, the best tomatoes, the best ingredients, and that’s the key to the flavor. Some places cheap out and think they’re saving a few bucks by using cheap brands, but, in the long run it hurts your business.
“You might as well pay a little extra to have the best quality stuff.”
Dawson, of Greenlawn, a Harborfields High School grad, first opened Jonny D’s with his father, and has since recruited each of his three brothers, Jared, Pat and Ray, all also Harborfields grads. The Greenlawn Jonny D’s location opened up at 91 Broadway in May 2015.
Dawson spoke highly of his talented, reliable and efficient staff members, including the Huntington location’s chefs, Camison and Willie Iraheta; and pizza maker Giovanni Aguilar.
While the Iraheta brothers take care of the main dishes, Aguilar is tasked with keeping the pizzas fresh in the front. And he does it well.
“He’s the best on Long Island,” Dawson said, adding that the pizzeria opts to stock its pizza display case with the staples so to keep them as fresh as possible for customers, including those that stop after arriving at the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station, a 10 minute walk away.
The regular slice ($2.25) at Jonny D’s is to die for. Aguilar strikes the perfect ratio between sauce and cheese, laying them atop a crust that perfectly cradles the ingredients, yet provides a satisfying crunch with each bite.
For the adventurous, the 21 specialty pies prepared at Jonny D’s include chicken bacon ranch ($21.95); margarita ($19.95); and salad pizza (Greek, Caesar or Tossed, $19.95).
As for the Irahetas, who operate in the kitchen, perhaps their most celebrated concoction is the grilled chicken that can be added atop one any of the four styles of salads ($5-$6.50 for a small; $6-$7.50 for a large). For an extra $3.50, the grilled chicken adds new flavor to any salad thanks to a Dawson-family recipe marinade. The marinade gives the chicken a smoky flavor that pops in the mouth, and melds with the Caesar, Greek, tossed or tomato and fresh mozzarella salads.
“We sell just as many salads as we do pizzas,” Dawson, 34, said.
He added that, when lunchtime rolls around, Jonny D’s gets plenty of requests for grilled chicken salads from customers who either dine in, pick up, or seek delivery – which the pizzeria offers for orders of $10 (there is also a $2 charge that does not include tip).
As for the classics, they’re not to be overlooked.
The penne ala vodka ($12.95, served with bread) is both creamy and hearty, and is packed with flavor. The lemon sauce that’s poured atop the chicken francese ($14.95, served with bread) is powerfully zesty, but not too much so, and offers a great change-up from marinara-based dishes.
But the marinara-based dishes are also a treat, including the chicken cutlet parmigiana hero ($7.95). It’s one of 12 different types of heros served at Jonny D’s, and it’s mouthwatering. The chicken cutlets are perfectly prepared and layered with melted mozzarella cheeses and marinara sauce that is a treat to taste together. The bread used for the sandwich is somehow as soft as a pillow, yet provides a satisfying crunch.
And don’t forget the Italian sausage and peppers. They’re a treat enjoyed in each and every bite.
There’s also room to explore.
Appetizers include Jonny D’s wings ($6.95), which can be served in buffalo, honey barbeque and sesame honey varieties; and fried calamari ($9.95).
Calzones, which are offered in cheeses, ham or broccoli varieties, range from $4.95-$6.95; and rolls also come in chicken, sausage and pepperoni, broccoli or eggplant varieties, all for $6.95.
As for main courses, other staples include homemade lasagna ($13.95), shrimp scampi ($16.95), ziti with broccoli rabe and sausage ($16.95) and veal parmigiana with pasta ($17.95), all served with bread.
Then, for dessert, top it all off with a fresh cannoli ($3.50) or zeppole (50 cents each, only served Friday and Saturday nights).
Much of the offerings are also available for catering with half trays that serve eight-10 people, and full trays that serve 15-20.
Jonny D's Pizza
946 New York Ave., Huntington
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 12 noon-10 p.m.