Ravenna – It all started in Florida when Monika Mailach and Mike DelCiello were set up by a mutual acquaintance who thought they would make a great pair. Monika was born in Wiesbaden, Germany in the province of Hesse, so it goes without saying this lovely lady has German cooking in her blood. It comes as no surprise that on her first date with Mike she decided to cook him a specialty dish called Rouladen. It is a thinly pounded piece of flank steak rolled up with mustard, onion, bacon and pickles. Yes Pickles! For Mike this was an eclectic combination of food and he was thrown for a loop.
“He didn’t want to eat it,” Monika said with amusement and a giggle, at the memory they shared together, in the cutest German accent you have ever heard.
“But, I could smell the aromas I was getting hungry,” Mike said, “so I cut a little piece and that was it.”
“He had a little bite and then I had him!” Monika said of how they fell in love.
Today the Rouladen is a staple on the menu of the restaurant they started together in January 2016.
Mike and Monika DelCiello are the owners of DelCiello Ristorante and Lounge in Ravenna. This thriving business is based in the ideal concept of love for family and food. It is because of this that Mike and Monika have since met the local demand for German food, restaurant expansion and the production of their famous Italian sauce.
Two generations ago Mike’s grandparents, Domonick and Cora DelCiello, immigrated to North Hill in Akron, Ohio, from Campo Basso, Italy in the region of Molise. Like so many who had come before them seeking a bright new future they did not leave their cultural heritage behind. They brought it with them cooking traditional Italian cuisine at home on a regular basis on Sundays for upwards of 35 family members, recalls grandson, Mike DelCiello. “It was a typical Italian family basement with a long table, a stove and tile on the wall. It looked like a kitchen used for family get togethers,” he said.
This influenced Mike who went into the restaurant business at a young age and became a very productive and successful manager for the Bob Evans chain in Florida. But, after marrying Monika in 2001 the couple wanted to broaden their horizons and started the DelCiello Olde World Flavorfuls food truck business in 2014 in Tampa. Without a doubt, the food they serviced was very popular and they immediately got hired to cater events for the local police stations. In the first year the food truck beat both their yearly salaries from previous jobs, but this line of work was “cut-throat and hard” Mike said.
On a trip up to Akron to see family in September 2015 the couple started looking at different locations. It was on a fluke that they ended up looking at the Ravenna location. But they knew it when they found it. “I wanted a little place where people can come in and feel exactly how they would feel going to Grandma’s for Sunday supper,” Monika said.
Six months after opening with an all Italian menu customers began asking for German food. Thanks to Monika who has been cooking family recipes, like her famous Goulash since the age of 10, a unique flavor profile has reached the community and inspired economy.
“This is our life. We live for food and we live for family. And we are trying to carry that tradition on here,” he said.
DelCiello Ristorante and Lounge is located at 161 N. Chestnut St., Ravenna, OH, 44266. For questions about reservations and events call 330-839-7420.