Chef Dan Kluger Ventures to LIC With Reimaged Comfort Food From His Childhood At Penny Bridge
For quite some time now, Long Island City has been on the upward expansion with plenty of new developments, residential buildings, and restaurants popping up all over the neighborhood. While the results of this expansion are still a mixed bag of emotions among the life-long residents of the area, the undeniable synergy among culture, community, and artists alike who have come together to start their new business venture in Astoria/LIC has been nothing short of explosive. Naturally, it didn’t take long before several aspiring entrepreneurs across the river began looking into Queens to make their mark on this ever-growing metropolis.
Chef Dan Kluger certainly did anyways. Before opening his second restaurant in LIC, the critically renowned chef opened the doors to his first restaurant five years ago at the Loring Place, named after the Bronx street that his father grew up on, over in Greenwich Village, NYC. The chef instantly received rave reviews from the New York Times critic Pete Wells, who found much to like about the restaurant’s vegetable-forward and seasonal American cuisine in his two-star review from May 2017. For those of us who remember chef Kluger’s days working with world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s at ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina, he assisted in leading the former restaurant to a James Beard Award in 2011, the fantastic review came as no surprise.
Kluger’s career, however, didn’t just happen overnight. He started working in front-of-house positions at cafes until he inevitably found his way behind the scenes in the kitchen. This hands-on learning experience eventually led to the birth of his career working for top chefs like Tom Collichio and Jean-George. Until he ultimately set out to flex his own creative muscles and opened his dream restaurant. While the industry has (rightfully so) dubbed him as the vegetable-forward chef, Kluger explains, “[he] draws inspiration from seasonal ingredients and the various farms and farmers markets he partners with for his restaurants.”
While you’ll still find plenty of greens at Kluger’s latest LIC restaurant, Penny Bridge, for this concept, the chef set out to recreate some of his favorite all-American comfort foods from his childhood. For starters, you’ll find contemporary best-in-class dishes like fontina mozzarella sticks, delicata squash rings, and, Kluger’s personal favorite, the Albacore Tuna Crudo “melt,” served on warm toast with kalamatas, marinated peppers, and house lardo—which was often a staple served at his childhood home.
As for entrees, there’s a fine selection of playful burger combinations as well as a great selection of seasonal and locally sourced menu options like the Skate Milanese. While choosing to debut his second restaurant in Long Island City at the cusp of a pandemic was a big “leap of faith,” Kluger is delighted to have the opportunity to showcase his passion in a space that is within itself a breath of fresh air. Although we’d argue that’s all thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows that feel, “minimalist and sunny,” says Kluger. The restaurant, which is located inside the JACX building (yet separate from the development’s talent-packed food hall that opened recently), is a welcomed addition to the budding culinary scene in Queens, which we believe will only continue to flourish as time, and the pandemic, moves on.
For more information about Dan Kluger, you can visit his website, dankluger.com, or check out the Penny Bridge website, pennybridgelic.com, for more information on the restaurant’s new brunch and seasonal dinner menu. Penny Bridge is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 6-9 pm for regular hours and 12-3 pm for brunch Friday through Sunday.