Eight years of awesome sauce at D'Agnese's Trattoria and Cafe

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D’Agnese’s Trattoria and Café offers a menu that is a contemporary interpretation of many classic Italian dishes, with a mix of very healthy offerings. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit)

By Bill Yurgen

I’m writing this column with mixed emotions. D’Agnese’s Trattoria and Café, on White Pond Drive, is that special kind of restaurant you want to keep secretly held between yourself and a select few friends and relatives.

It’s one of those near-perfect, extremely popular places without the ridiculous lines and wait times. More importantly, the staff has a way of making you feel like it’s “your” restaurant.

A Favorite You Keep Coming Back To
If you have never tried D’Agnese’s, think of it as the modern culinary version of the special place your folks went to time after time whenever there was a rehearsal dinner, a graduation to mark, a new life to celebrate or a life recently passed to honor. A spot where you broke bread together over an exceptional yet affordable meal.

D’Agnese’s is just more attuned to contemporary sensibilities than the restaurants you grew up with. It’s a place that easily becomes a part of your family life. It’s also a place where couples come to enjoy a romantic dinner or just to celebrate a night away from the kitchen.

Speaking of romantic evenings, you won’t want to miss D’Agnese’s live entertainment in their lounge on Thursday and Friday nights or their “Open Mic Mondays with Larry Alltop.”*

D’Agnese’s achieves that special “our place” kind of thing that makes you feel like you’re “in the know” by dining there.

Perfect for Celebrating Life
And once you dine at D’Agnese’s a time or two, don’t be surprised when they begin to recognize you by name. Or when they note there is a birthday approaching and ask if you would like to make reservations (which are never a bad idea), or if you plan on booking your holiday dinner celebration for the office again this year.

In this day of homogenized dining at chains and corporate-like local restaurants, a place that remembers your name, your favorite dishes and the dates that are important to you tells you how important you are to them.

I always get a friendly greeting as they ask if I’m having the usual D’Agnese’s veal with a side of angel hair pasta smothered in pink sauce and a mesclun salad accompanied by a nice wine from Italy or California.

Yes, please!

Call it hopelessly old fashioned, but they treat you as though their business depends on you. It’s all quite charming.

Contemporary Italian Cuisine
For many people, the mere mention of an Italian restaurant conjures up visions of countless carbs. Chef and co-owner Joe Gallagher has a message for those folks:

“Many people mistake Italian-American food, which relies heavily on pasta, for true Italian recipes. In Italy, the culture is built around a reverence for the land and its bounties, and for the nearby sea, which almost surrounds the country. Fresh vegetables, high-quality meats and an abundance of seafood are dietary staples. We offer a menu that is a contemporary interpretation of many classic Italian dishes, with a mix of very healthy offerings. Our daily specials are an opportunity to stretch our culinary chops and delight our patrons with the unexpected. In fact, there are over 50 items on the menu we can make gluten-free.”

As something of a foodie myself, their sauces tell me the story. Scratch-made daily, all of the sauces taste fresh and never overcooked. That same quality is found in virtually everything you order.

Destination D’Agnese’s

Despite any desires I might have to keep things hush-hush, D’Agnese’s, like all things buzz-worthy, has become something of a social media phenomenon. In fact, a quick glance at their 4.5 out of 5 rating on Trip Advisor reveals happy customers from places like Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas, who visited D’Agnese’s during their travels and were impressed enough to comment.

Many make sure they return on future trips. You’ll find similar kudos on Open Table, Google and Facebook.

D’Agnese’s Trattoria and Café serves lunch and dinner daily, from 11 a.m. until close. The restaurant is located immediately off the White Pond exit of I-77. The address is 566 White Pond Dr. in Akron. You can reach them at 234-678-3612 or visit DagnesesWhitePond.com.
* Visit dagneseswhitepond.com/Events for details.