Vaccaro's Trattoria 
 Fairlawn, Ohio            Date of Visit: 04/10/10        

Birthday trip two. A fantastic evening with friends we arrived at a new-to-us local joint with great company. Still looking for a great Italian place here in the area we tried Vaccaro’s Trattoria in Fairlawn. Don’t let the small strip mall façade throw you, it is rich and trendy inside. The first departure from Y-town is the price point is much higher in the Akron area and appeared above average for Akron Italian here.

Quick and effluent service led us to our table where we struggled to peruse the menu, not having been out together for a while. Our server appeared understanding and tolerant of our loud, constant, chattering and let us go about our tomfoolery. One oddity in the service, you get menus, are asked if you are ready to order, you pick something, and then when they are taking the order they tell you the specials. Strange. One of the best things about this group is they are all passers so everyone gets to try a little of everything.


Special Flat Bread

Things started with an upscale basket of bread is served alongside an oil, balsamic, and garlic mash. Two salads were passed around the table, both fresh and standard approaches to the classic wedge and Caprese. We also tried the flat bread du jour which highlighted our food related experience for the night, good dishes with small mistakes, with one each high and low note. The flat bread with figs, mascarpone cheese, apples and procuitto started off with a fantastic balance of salty pig, sweet cheese and fruits with an herby note blended into the cheese. When we neared the middle of the bread the amount of the sweet cheese increased by two to three times, depending on your slice, and it became cloying and out of balance. Vaccaro’s has a substantial wine list with a few interesting options to pair with their offerings.

So six entrees, for me best to worst…the surf and turf special, black truffle mac & cheese, the eggplant involtini-breaded, the chicken parm, the eggplant involtini-grilled, and the scallop gnocchi with wild mushrooms. The surf and turf consisted of not overdone large shrimp, perfectly cooked and delicious lamb, tasty mash, and an intriguing and good spicy broccoli. This was easily worth the price point difference and an excellent dish beginning to end.

Caprese Salad

Absolute Standout Surf and Turf

Steakhouse Wedge Salad
  The mac & cheese was also rich and flavorful with a dusty of crispy bread crumbs across the top for a very nice textural addition. The difference between the eggplant dishes, at least to my palate had more to do with texture than taste. The breaded eggplant held some texture without any surprises and blended in with the rest of the plate better than the grilled this night. The grilled did have a nice flavor in and of itself however. The chicken in the parmagiana was perfectly prepared, done and moist, and was accompanied by little pasta and might have used more tomato sauce.
Black Truffle Mac & Cheese

Chicken Parm

Breaded Eggplant
  I had ordered the scallops which turned out to be the biggest disappointment of the evening. The menu had promised gnocchi and wild mushrooms but the plate arrived with undercooked bowtie in a flavorless sauce. After as search for shrooms it appeared that wild refers to crossing the unforgiving tundra of the Giant Eagle for button mushroom. The scallops looked awesome, with a nice crusty Maillard-reaction brown on the tops. I’m not certain if they were cut in half or if they were small to begin with, but they had been overcooked to achieve that crust.

Overall, we had an excellent evening, and the food barring a couple of small mistakes and one disaster was solid. Thanks friends, for a great night, but I  fear we are still looking for that great Italian home in the Akron area.


Scallops and "Gnocchi" and "Wild" Shrooms




What's Best

What's Worst

  D D B A F D+  
        Surf and Turf  was
I should have avoided
the Scallop dish.
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