Italian is about as all-American as Mexican and Chinese food given the ethnic make-up of this country! Out on Route 55 in Apex down the road from Beaver Creek Commons is the hidden gem, Daniel’s Italian Restaurant. From the outside Daniel’s is a bit unassuming and sprawls. I’d have to guess that it used to be a smaller spot that just expanded over time due to popularity. Next to the front entrance is a small garden patio complete with bubbling fountain, I’m sure it would be great in nice weather with a glass of vino. Inside, Daniel’s is pretty old school with a dark muted interior, staff all dressed in black. The place was busy for a Tuesday lunch which is always a good sign, we grabbed a table near the end of the dining room.
The lunch menu at Daniel’s has about 10 pasta choices, some pizzas and salads. Nothing too amazingly different in terms of pasta, most have the option of adding chicken or shrimp. I order up some arancini ($8) as a starter and then go with the Penne alla Casa (house penne, $10) which is tomato cream sauce with chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. A basket of lovely focaccia is placed on the table with a small bowl of marinara sauce for dipping, yum! I’m sensing carbo overload, ETA one hour. The focaccia is decent but what makes it is the sauce. The marinara is bright and full of crushed tomato flavor. Shortly thereafter our plate of arancini comes out. Three well-browned risotto balls stuffed with cheese and pancetta. A nice version with some density and flavor, the pancetta is a nice addition. They’re also served with the same tasty marinara sauce underneath.
Next my pasta dish comes out and it’s a large portion of al dente pasta with flecks of parsley, pieces of pungent sun-dried tomatoes, sauteed chicken and spinach. I don’t think Daniel’s does home-made pasta but they use a good-quality commercial version that’s cooked just right. Paired with the creamy sauce and tasty chicken and veggies, it’s an excellent meal and I save some to take home. Otherwise it would be lights out at work for the afternoon! Our server for the meal is a young lady named Jillian and she does an excellent job pacing the meal and checking in on us. She even notices when she’s late picking up our check due to a large party behind us which is very self-aware. So I have to say that service at Daniel’s seems excellent if this young lady is that well-trained!
All in all while I don’t always crave Italian, Daniel’s is a great choice if you’re in the hood. Pasta is usually always a sure thing but the food here takes it to an even higher level especially if you like garlic. Tie in the excellent service, reasonable prices for lunch and good ambiance and you’ve got yourself a winner! Rock on Daniel’s, there’s obviously some very good reasons why you have been successful over the years and I hope to get back soon…