Though Dan Lauria has traveled to numerous destinations, the actor said he has never taken a proper holiday. "I've never taken a vacation," says Lauria, who is best known for playing Fred Savage's father on "The Wonder Years." "I've never been to Europe. Every time I planned to do something big, I got a job and I could never pass that up." But Lauria, who may currently be seen on the TBS series "Sullivan and Son," says he has still seen a good part of the United States, thanks to his career. Lauria, 67, splits his time between his apartment in New York City and a house in Los Angeles. "The Wonder Years: The Complete Series" is available exclusively at Timelife.com/WonderYears.
Q. Did your family travel much when you were a child?
A. No. My father was a truck driver. He had two weeks of vacation a year. I was playing ball, so I didn't want to go anywhere and miss any games. My first time traveling was when I went to New Haven for college at Southern Connecticut State University. Then I was in the Marines for three years.
Q. What was it like being deployed overseas with the Marines?
A. I was young and did what I was told. I enjoyed going to the Philippines and Mt. Fuji. There was not much time off so we were stuck eating our rations. But I got to spend a little time in Japan and they had really nice food there. I was only in Vietnam for a little while.
Q. Where would you travel to for the food?
A. Does New York count, since I live in New York? It's a great city for food. The only place you can't get a good meal is in midtown, where they cater to the tourists. Chicago ranks right up there, as well as D.C. and Philly. But if I had to pick just one city, it would be Boston. As a New Yorker, I hate saying that. They have the best clam chowder. Jacob Wirth Co. is wonderful. They serve German cuisine. A lot of theater people go there and they are so gracious to us. They have about 50 different kinds of beer. Go for the schnitzel and beer!
Q. If you want good beer and schnitzel, you have to get to Germany one day, Dan.
A. I always wanted to get to Germany, especially Munich. Maybe someday.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. New York. Toronto. I ate the best food outside of America there. It's right up there with New York, then Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. They all have great food. I love San Francisco theaters. I love that they do new plays. It just feels like a city. Los Angeles doesn't.
Q. What are some of your favorite restaurants?
A. La Bruschetta in Toronto. I lived in Toronto for a year and ate there all the time. It wasn't even near where I was staying, but it was worth the effort to get there. The best pizza in the world isn't in New York or Chicago. It's in New Haven. I don't even stick up for my home state when it comes to pizza, because these two are just so good: Sallyâs Apizza or Pepeâs. I met President Clinton and we were talking about New Haven. When I was leaving, I shook his hand and he pulled me back and said, "Pepe's or Sally's?" I said Pepe's and he said, "That's too bad. I'm a Sally's guy." I told him, "That's OK. I'll vote for you anyways." (Laughs) When I brought Fred Savage to Pepe's, he said, "You're right, Dan. It's the best."
Q. Where was the first state you traveled to for your plays?
A. Connecticut. Then Virginia, North Carolina, Chicago, New York quite a bit. I love Chicago, because it's one of the few cities where new writing is encouraged. They don't just perform revivals. I love Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise and Steppenwolf Theatre.
Q. What U.S. cities would you like to get to next?
A. St. Louis. I've never been to Missouri. I'd like to go to Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa. If they don't shoot liberals, I'd like to go through some Red States. (Laughs) I technically was in Hawaii, but only for a few hours on the way to other places. I've never been to Alaska.
Q. Do you get recognized when you're on the road?
A. Yes, but the people recognizing me now are getting older. They watched me on "The Wonder Years" when they were kids and they're in their 40s now. They will probably watch the DVDs with their kids.
Q. What things from home do you bring when you travel?
A. Just pictures. I have a frame for three pictures, and I have photos of my godson and (actresses) Wendie Malick and Judith Light. Those are my two girls. I love being on stage with them.
Q. What is your favorite weekend getaway?
A. I like doing charity events. Dennis Farina, Joe Mantegna and I made a commitment to Frank Sinatra to always go to his charity golf tournaments. I've missed very few since he died. It's nice to see old friends. It was held in Palm Springs, but now it's in Indio. It's sad and wonderful at the same time. It's sad that very few people who were attending when we started 25 years ago are there anymore -- Claude Akins, Chuck Connors, Frank. ... Last year was sad for me and Joe because Dennis wasn't there. Dennis was a sweetheart. Whenever he was in L.A., he came to every play that I did. He loved acting, but would rather be having a bowl of pasta and talking to his friends.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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