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Downtown Auburn restaurant redecorates, refocuses as it turns 2
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FOOD & DRINK

Downtown Auburn restaurant redecorates, refocuses as it turns 2

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AUBURN — Downtown restaurant Gusto Italiano is celebrating its second birthday with some new decor.

Owners Dario and Lucia D'Angelo, and their family, took a few days to visually transform the restaurant earlier this month. They moved its coffee bar and lunch buffet toward the back, freeing up space for the dining room. The restaurant, which used to seat 25, now seats about 40, Lucia said Oct. 11 through public relations associate Sandi Frackenpohl.

The D'Angelos also added new wallpaper, tables and chairs, the latter accented with cushions Lucia made herself. The stark new look, dominated by blacks and whites, is meant to highlight the restaurant's fine dining menu, Frackenpohl said. Its lunch buffet and pizza business have been strong, perhaps owing to the space's history as a pizza shop. But the D'Angelos wanted their restaurant to look more like one where families come for dinner, Frackenpohl said.

"The way it was before, it looked like more of a pizza place," she said in reference to its previous rustic look, which featured sky blue walls and wood pallet surfaces.

The D'Angelos are no strangers to doing things themselves at Gusto Italiano. They and their kitchen staff also do all the cooking from scratch, from the pasta and the sauces to the bread and the pastries. The restaurant's menu features recipes from Lucia's grandmother, and Dario earned his culinary degree in Sicily. Their family also has history in Auburn's restaurant scene: Dario's uncle Angelo opened local institution Angelo's Pizza in 1960.

As they balance running the restaurant and raising three children — ages 5, 8 and 13 — the D'Angelos are considering some additions to Gusto Italiano's menu, Frackenpohl said. They would like to add more traditional Sicilian cuisine to current selections like cavatellia alla norma (pasta sauteed with tomatoes, eggplant and ricotta salata) and salmon gratin (salmon served with asparagus and cream of mustard over pasta with tomato sauce or garlic oil).

"It's some of the richest, most authentic Sicilian food that you'll find," Frackenpohl said.

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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