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Denino's facadeDenino's filled two needs. James wanted pizza. "Old-school or hipster?" I asked, as if those were the only two styles on earth.  Old-school, it was decided, Staten Island, preferably. Me, I wanted a clam pie, but New Haven wasn't in the cards on such short notice. Neither of us had ever eaten pizza in (or is that on?) Staten Island, which is a shame. Pat & Joe's and Lee's Tavern were also contenders that will have to wait for another time. I did not regret my choice because Denino's is awesome.

Any place with an old man bar attached, pitchers of beer on most (laminate wood) tables, and booths (booths are key) where half the clientele and staff know with each other, is going to be good. Plus, when was the last time you saw a Kiss tattoo?

Denino's buffalo calimari

Oh, and you can have buffalo calamari. You wonder who the grotesque target audience is for Sabra Buffalo Syle Hummus, and now you know. Me.

Denino's clam pie

The pizza is thin crust with some chew, charred just a little, and non-floppy. I wanted to try half-and-half since it doesn't seem like you can do that in NYC and it's kind of a throwback to childhood when a pepperoni/Hawaiian was the crowd-pleaser at any gathering (plus, plastic pitchers of root beer and Ladybug, the Pac Man ripoff) but clams seemed weird with meat even if they weren't technically touching. I'll leave blending pork and shellfish in a single dish to the Portuguese. There was a good amount of cheese, but not so much that it overwhelmed the clams. And being a white pie, garlic and olive oil were also major players.

Despite wanting to stay for hours, Denino's is no place for lingering. On weekend nights there are waits for tables, despite multiple dining rooms, and if you talk too much (like I do) you'll soon realize the whole room has changed over and you still have half a pizza left. Eat up, box your leftovers and scram.

Denino's * 524 Port Richmond Ave., Staten Island, NY


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