D'Agnese's Trattoria and Cafe's chef Joe and his staff prepare such delights as these shown above (beginning in the upper left): Zuppa Di Pesce, Tomato Basil Soup, Mesclun Green Salad, Scallops, and Veal Saltimbocca, and in the small silver dish is

D'Agnese's Trattoria and Cafe


Published: 08/18/2011

by Mimi Vanderhaven


In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Italian immigrants spread throughout our country and left behind a culinary legacy involving the use of earthy, carefully crafted sauces to complement the fresh bounty from our farms and seas. Whether it’s Cioppino, a fish stew found in San Francisco, Tuscan rib-eye steaks from Texas, or superb pastas from Providence, Rhode Island, Italian foods have become imbedded in our culture.


Here in Northeast Ohio, something Italian can be found on almost every restaurant menu. But when Mimi craves the comfort of authentic Italian cuisine—the kind that satisfies an urgent longing for food that warms the soul—the range of choices narrows.


That’s why Mimi was delighted to discover D’Agnese’s Trattoria and Cafe located just off the White Pond exit of I-77, in West Akron. Situated in a serene, campus like setting it’s a convenient destination.


Mimi was so impressed during her first visit to D’Agnese’s that she insisted on paying her compliments to the chef. Much to her delight, Joe Gallagher, chef and co-owner, came out to greet her. Mimi was thrilled to learn that someone of Irish heritage could make such wonderful Italian cuisine.


“I was born in Ireland and our family settled in the area,” Joe shared. “At the age of 14, I began working for D’Agnese’s, in Seven Hills. That was the beginning of my lifetime love affair with Italian food and the restaurant business.”


“As I honed my culinary skills, opportunities for personal improvement came with the growth of the owners’ different venues. Soon I became a part of the regular kitchen staff at The Tomato Grill, in Hudson, and then went on to become the chef at D’Agnese’s, Bistro at Hammonds Corners, in Bath. My last step was my dream come true, to be co-owner of my own restaurant,” he added.


Mimi loves a success story every bit as much as she loves fine Italian food.


Chef Joe explained that although about 60% of his menu includes favorites from the other D’Agnese’s restaurants, he puts his special touches on each dish and offers an abundance of his own creations.


Mimi indulged in the Mesclun Greens Salad with port wine and poached pears, candied walnuts, goat cheese and apples in a sweet balsamic vinaigrette before moving on to the Penne and Chicken with pine nuts, roasted red peppers, garlic, imported olives and spinach in a white wine sauce. All fabulous.


Overheard from a nearby table were guests singing the praises of what they were calling “the best veal we’ve ever had.”


Chef Joe explained that by hand cutting the veal, a good chef can examine the grain and cut to make each piece its most tender and flavorful, rather than just buying production cut meat.


The veal specialty is the Veal D’Agnese’s, also available as a chicken dish with D’Agnese’s signature lemon butter sauce.


Chef Joe also highly recommends the Zuppa Di Pesce—clams, mussels, salmon, prosciutto, onions, olives and cherry peppers all basking in a white wine broth. Heavenly.


Mimi readers may “friend” D’Agnese’s on Facebook to receive updates on daily specials, which include the freshest, seasonally caught fish and seafood as well as dishes inspired by seasonal produce.


D’Agnese’s Trattoria and Café is open seven days a week and is located at 566 White Pond Drive, just north of I-77. For more information, please call 234-678-3612 or visit Catering for special events is also available.