By Michelle Caceres
Nestled at the intersection of Oakfield and Corner Drives near Brandon Regional Hospital, Allegria Italiana Ristorante brings the culture, food and feel of Italy to Brandon.
The restaurant is owned by the Dragoneti family, who share their decades of experience and passion to the creation of Italian cuisine. Many of the items on the menu are authentic recipes passed down through generations of Italian families. Matriarch Mamma Rosa’s sauce recipe graces the menu in several dishes.
It’s not just her recipes that can be found at the restaurant.
The 85-year-old can be found most nights sitting in the dining room, enjoying the overall atmosphere and ready to chat with customers.
“She brings some of that Italian authenticity to the restaurant,” said owner and son Vito Dragonetti.
From their roots in Italy, the Dragonetti family began their restaurant venture in New York in the 1970’s, where they owned pizzerias, trattorias and steakhouses.
A commercial broker, Eddie Arnold, told Dragonetti that Brandon had a need for a family-owned Italian restaurant with great food. The New Yorker left the Big Apple and moved to Florida. Allegria has been open almost three years.
“We have lasted because we know how to take care of our customers,” said Dragonetti, who emphasizes the importance of the entire dining experience at his restaurant.
“We are a small restaurant and take pride in our food,” he said. “Plan to spend an hour and a half eating and enjoying good food, the atmosphere and good conversation with your dining companions.”
Dragonetti is doing something right. TripAdvisor ratings are extremely favorable and the restaurant earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2015 and 2016.
Allegria is open Monday – Thursday 3:30 p.m.–9 p.m., Friday 3:30 p.m.–10 p.m., Saturday 4:30 p.m. –10 p.m. and Sunday 4 p.m.–8 p.m. Reservations are required on the weekends and lunch may be added soon. Visit www.allegriaitaliana.com, or call 651-1166.