My husband and I had the great fortune to attend a preview of D.B.A. (Dante Boccuzzi Akron), a new restaurant on the first floor of Northside Lofts in the former VegiTerranean location.
While I don’t think locals were completely comfortable with VegiTerranean ’ s all-vegan menu, I’m positive they will savor every bite at D.B.A., prepared by Cleveland chef Dante Boccuzzi and his team. As for me and my husband, this was one of the best meals we ’ ve had in a restaurant … ever.
Boccuzzi, who owns three Cleveland-area restaurants, is known for his love of music, and his Akron eatery is a rock ‘n’ roll palace — sophisticated and edgy — with a red-and-black color scheme and his signature “guitar pick” logo. The menu itself is a 33 rpm record jacket, and the walls are decorated with song lyrics from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Pink Floyd and more.
Described as “modern American,” D.B.A. ’ s menu has something for everyone – carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, guests with big appetites or those who just want a nibble.
My husband and I shared two starters. The 21 Vegetable Salad, described as “roots, bulbs and leaves,” was a colorful, fresh textural mix of fresh veggies in a daikon radish “bowl,” drizzled with a delicious mustard seed vinaigrette. The polenta, served with sausage and peppers, was the ultimate in comfort food – warm, rich and satisfying.
For our entrees, my husband had the curried duck breast with wild mushroom and confit roulade, apricot purée and basmati rice. The purée provided an unexpected and tangy dipping sauce for the perfectly cooked duck. I had the Ribeye with crimini mushrooms and caramelized shallots. The meat was so tender I didn’t even need the steak knife (which, by the way, looked like a black-handled switchblade.) The bite-sized herbed potatoes were served in a larger hollowed-out baked potato.
While waiting for Lisa, our attentive server, to return with our crème brulee for dessert, we walked onto the patio and watched the sun set over West Akron. The multi-level patio, spacious and well-appointed with sleek heaters and outdoor living room-style furniture, will undoubtedly become a hot-spot to be enjoyed well into Akron ’ s chilly fall evenings.
Throughout the evening, Boccuzzi chatted with his guests, and general manager Phil Hockey ensured that his wait staff was not only meeting, but exceeding, everyone’s needs; our water glasses were never empty. Hockey told me that while preparing for D.B.A. ’ s grand opening, he’s fallen in love with Akron ’ s fresh air, green spaces and friendly people.
I wish Boccuzzi and his staff the very best. They're off to a great start.