DBA Akron, Ohio        
 Date of Visit  10/11/13  

Many moons ago we went to the Greenhouse Tavern with a crew including a couple of transplants from New Joiysee and ended up ordering every single thing on the menu that night.  There were eight of us. It was ridiculous. It was delicious. Tonight we are whittled to four and ordered half of the entire menu. What’s wrong with us? I blame Joiysee. I think we were all excited to get back together again after so long and we had all heard good things about DBA, now if there was just a place to park.



The Menu Cover Might Explain Some Of What Was To Come

The previous tenant, Chrissie Hynde’s VegiTerranean, was on our list for some time but closed a couple of years ago with the continued local gnoshing of tasty animals. Enter Dante Boccuzzi and DBA (Dante Boccuzzi Akron not Doing Business As). The boy has some pedigree, in kitchens including those of Charlie Palmer, Nobu and Marchesi. This should be good, and if it is we might soon be to Dante in Cleveland.

The place is certainly decked out inside, dark and sleek. I was surprised by the rock n roll theme, record dust-cover menus with the Chef stirring a pot with a guitar, lyrics from Floyd and Metallica on the walls. Having recently dined at Ripper Owen’s place I just figured Dante was also a touring musician who at some point transitioned to the kitchen. Apparently he is a fan and just wants it to look that way. I used to feel bad about saying things like this but after so many varied experiences I am feel less bad with honesty. After our experience I left hoping he was a well-known musician and had some sort of fall-back venture. Turns out he’s not much of musician or restaurateur/chef.


The service was odd and uncomfortable. It seems like they train their staff to assume everyone walking in the door has never been anywhere but McDonalds before, and then try to make them strangely uncomfortable through the night. They did a nice job with beverages, running food, etc., but there was a strange passive arrogance I didn’t particularly enjoy. We ordered five apps, four small pastas, four entrees, and four desserts. Blame Joiysee! Count with me…. Hang on math is not my strong suit. 17 dishes. Of 17, I would return for one, two were fine and the remainder traveled between disappointing and wasteful. The plates were as beautifully composed as the interior of the restaurant, but were as bleak and desolate as the rock and roll cred.

Same Picture Twice...

Should Have Ordered It Over Four Times & Gone Home

The apps were a Hawaiian tuna tartare, cold pea soup, grilled octopus, goat cheese and mussels. Let’s start on the star of the show, the broth from the “Hong Kong” style mussels was absolutely divine. Evenly spicy, dusky and sharp with garlic, tomato, citrus, cilantro and seaness (not a real word). I literally said if the secret ingredient was fresh kitten I would squeeze a little fuzzball til it stopped purring to have this again. Horrible, I know. Blah, blah. What I wouldn’t do is return to DBA for it. The tartare was served with purple potatoes, remoulade and a poached egg. Hawaiian on the menu must be code for that specialized island cooking technique which removes all flavor from the ingredients. I wasn’t expecting intensity, I was expecting something, anything, nope.

The mint and pea puree also put me in the mood for a delicate dish, but this was handled more tenderly than a slippery box filled with babies and Faberge eggs. The couple of pieces of roasted crimini mushrooms were fine but only highlighted the absence of anything else in the bowl. We’ve been around. I’ve had soup poured tableside before. If you are going to put on the show, the music better kick some tail, this was all lights and no sound.

New Definition Of Bland

Standard Definition Of Boring

The octopus was grilled and accompanied by greens and citrus which accomplished very little. The goat cheese was better than the previous three but this was due to it being goat cheese and a couple pieces of fig, the remainder of the garnish was pointless. We should have ordered four bowls of mussels and gone home. Not much else to say...on to the next thing.


The Little Bit Of Octopus Was Fine...Rest Of It Was Pointless

Hey. The Goat Cheese Is Cheesy In A Goaty Sort Of Way. YAAAAA!

We ordered small plates of the four pastas, risotto (grilled porcini, mascarpone and sage cracker), a pappardelle alla Bolognese (red three-meat sauce), ricotta cavatelli (sweet corn cream, chanterelle mushrooms and peppered crème fraîche) and green spaghetti (garlic braised shrimp, spinach and poor man’s cheese). Results. Risotto was overcooked and terrifyingly bland. Papparedelle was a little better, the sauce held well done meat but didn’t offer any complexity past that. The cavs were seriously sweet, which is not my thing but the corn was nice. Dessert pasta. If you enjoy it that way you would love this. The green pasta was by far my favorite (at DBA). I was completely unfamiliar with “Poor Man’s Cheese”. I looked it up. Pangritata are bread crumbs fried in olive oil with garlic and herbs. Nice garlic bite, some crunch, flavorful pasta, all good. Garlic braised shrimp, not sure what happened here but no amount of garlic was going to overpower the ammonia reek of these little crustaceans. Enjoyed every bite of the pasta til I got a bite of the shrimp, then I was done.

Hey. This One's Bland AND Overcooked

Pappardelle With Passable Ragu

Surprisingly Sweet Cavatelli

Yummy Green Pasta With Old Nasty Shrimp

Entrees. Sorry, this is making me tired and re-irritated, descriptions will be more brief. Duo of Pork (fava beans, candied orange and roasted garlic), Muscovy duck (duck sausage, cornbread croutons, corn and plum jus), halibut (heirloom tomatoes, gruyere gnocchi, arugula and garlic crisp) and scallops (balsamic glazed strawberries, lemon confit and rösti potato).

The pork loin wasn’t bad, the negligible amount of belly bits sprinkled around the plate made it much less of a “duo” and it’s hard to match the magic of so many who have learned to extract the pure awesome out of pork. It was fine. Things went downhill from there. The duck lacked duckiness, the sausage lacked juice (fat) and the plum wetness didn’t stick to anything. It looked nice, but it’s got to make it to the buds to make a difference. The halibut was grossly overcooked and served on a twist of arugula so salty it guarantees either no one in the kitchen is paying attention or tasting, or its some kind of joke I don’t understand.

Pork Wasn't Bad

Duck Ain't Very Ducky

Then things went off the deep end. I have trouble imagining how the scallops dish was even conceived. The scallops were big and beautiful. They were seared on one side and just warm through the middle. Nice. Then they were served with big round hash browns and strawberries. I know the menu said balsamic glazed berries (it was difficult to detect the vinegar) and they were there…but they were not alone. Sort of like the zombie on the plane in World War Z there were zombie strawberries all over the plate. I don’t know if there is a dehydrated strawberry I would covet but these harsh, bitter and crusty discs pushed me the other direction. You couldn’t even get a fork through the things. I guess you stab a piece of scallop and then are supposed to lick the gross lumps off the plate. I didn’t get it. I didn’t enjoy it. I hated seeing huge tasty scallops adorned with bleccch. We were getting bitter ourselves at this point but we did dessert hoping to find something else to like about the place.

If People Weren't Paying For This It Would Only Be Laughably Bad

Looked Wonderful. Tasted Confusingly Horrible

We ended up with four desserts, a butterfinger parfait with nutella ice cream, banana cake and Chantilly cream, a cream cheesecake with blueberry compote, toasted pecans and a phyllo crisp topped with a grape sorbet; a tasting of Valrhona chocolate in a flourless cake, ice cream, mousse with a raspberry coulis; and a strawberry torte with butter cake, ginger sorbet, white chocolate ice cream and some strawberries in both regular and zombie varieties. Someone must like these horrible things.

The parfait was the best of the lot with the chocolate and peanut butter mix with bruled bananas. There really wasn’t much to it which turns out to be a boon at DBA. The more complicated things get the worse they get. The chocolates took a fairly good chocolate and made an average dessert. The strawberries…well, there’s that. And finally the cheesecake was disappointingly bad, the compote was nice but you would need a bucket of it to get this little chunk of dense, tasteless, cheese clay down. I mean, Sweet Darling Mary, I just went to a place that turned a doughnut, blueberry compote and bleu cheese transcendently delicious, what is going on here?

Imaginative, No. Not Bad Either

It's Chocolate, That's About It

Cheesecake Shame

You Can't Get Away From The Undead Strawberries. They're Everywhere!

While we were finishing up we had a fun contest of what DBA should actually stand for…I really want to share them here. I won’t. I don’t want it to seem I am just trying to be clever, and you shouldn’t miss the message.

For me, our visit to DBA highlighted everything that most people (who have yet to find those who do it well) hate about more uppity food. It’s overly expensive. It’s unnecessarily fussy. It’s condescending and uncomfortably formal. And. Most of it sucks. i.e. DBA.

Sorry for the vitriol, but being consistently disappointed leads to emotion, I wish I was just making stuff up to be a pain but this was our experience at DBA.




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