It wasn’t long after Chrissie Hynde’s restaurant VegiTerranean closed its doors that Akron gained another rock-star-owned establishment (of sorts).
Rock-star chef Dante Boccuzzi has partnered with Akron developer Joel Testa and others to open DBA (Dante Boccuzzi Akron) in the former VegiTerranean location in Northside Lofts — marking the first time a member of Cleveland’s hot cadre of chef/restaurant owners has ventured south to Akron.
“It’s kind of cool to be the first or a ‘pioneer,’ ” says Boccuzzi. “It occurred to me that a lot of Cleveland chefs were focusing their expansion projects mostly in just Cleveland suburbs. Akron is a market that’s not over-saturated — with room to grow.”
A Parma native, Boccuzzi has a résumé that includes time spent working at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in New York, with designer Giorgio Armani and at chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Armani/Nobu in Milan. Boccuzzi returned to Ohio in 2007, and now owns Dante in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood and Ginko, which serves contemporary Japanese cuisine and sushi downstairs from Dante. He’s also a partner in the soon-to-open D.C. Pasta Co. in Strongsville.
DBA is on track for a spring/summer opening and will emulate the modern American culinary style, menu and pricing of Dante — with dinner entrees in the $20 to $30 range. Boccuzzi also plans to make every dish available as a taste, appetizer or full entree.
He’s bringing in longtime friend Torsten Schulz as executive chef — who will be “running things under my guidance,” says Boccuzzi, adding that opening DBA in Akron makes sense since he lives Broadview Heights, went to high school in Cuyahoga Falls and considers Akron a city “on the rebound, changing for the better and starting to grow and expand.”