New Italian restaurant to offer savory, authentic dishes in Auburn

Ernesto Nardone and his mother, Michelina, will serve up authentic, made-from-scratch Italian dishes at Don Giovanni
Ernesto Nardone and his mother, Michelina, will serve up authentic, made-from-scratch Italian dishes at Don Giovanni's Ristorante and Wine Bar when it opens this month at the site of the former Ristorante Auguri at 18 Auburn Way S.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

All the dishes will be authentic, meticulously, reverently, lovingly created from recipes belonging to Ernesto Nardone's mother and his late grandmother.

And just to hear Ernesto read off a few of them, ad alta voce, is enough to make one's mouth gush helplessly.

"We're gonna have nice seafood dishes, we're going to have a lot of specials like lobster papardelle. We're gonna have linguini puta di mare, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, and steak dishes like bistecca alla Fiorentina. And all of our sauces, Napolitano sauce, ragu sauce, will be made from scratch every two days," said Ernesto.

Just the briefest suggestion of what patrons can expect at Don Giovanni's Ristorante and Wine Bar when it opens this month in the building formerly occupied by Ristorante Auguri at 18 Auburn Way S.

"We hope to be open by Mother's Day (May 12)," Ernesto said.

Ernesto said his mother, Michelina, will help to make the sauce, prep a bit in the morning, make the tiramisu and the lasagna just as her mother taught her to do.

"We're also going to have a chef here with 14 years experience in Italian cooking helping us with that," Ernesto said.

The restaurant will be able to serve 100 diners, Ernesto said. It will furnished with dark walnut chairs sporting leather seats and backs, square tables in the restaurant and round tables in the wine bar.

Ernesto said he will add live music later after he's had time to size up how the restaurant does.

"It's going to look like old Tuscan villas, all that color, the Tuscany colors. We'll have arches in front, all travertine flooring with tuscany tile, that's the look we're going for," said Ernesto.

As of last week, all that remained to be done was to paint the walls and finish the floors.

"We want to make sure we open the right way, that everybody is pleased, that everybody who comes in is impressed with the restaurant," Ernesto said.

Ernesto's parents, Giovanni and Michelina, come from Caserta, a small town 20 miles from the city of Naples. Caserta, he said, enjoys a fine reputation for its excellent cheeses.

Ernesto said he got his first restaurant experience working alongside his cousins at his uncle's place in New York City.

"My father in childhood worked in hotels in the kitchen. Mostly what I did was sell wine. But I have a little bit of experience from working a bit at my uncles," Ernesto said.

Ernesto explained why his family chose to open its second restaurant, in Auburn.

"Auburn was our choice because, number one, we have friend of ours named Al Rossi here, a good family friend of ours, and he told us, 'Hey, you guys, you wannna open up another one?' Cause we already have a restaurant in Issaquah called Moltacino, which my brother runs. Al suggested we open a restaurant here because people weren't too happy with Auguri's, and Auguri gave us an option to buy, and we bought it from him," Ernesto said.

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