June 14, 2024

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Simply The Best Food

Il Camino Italian Cafe in Leominster has been serving nonni’s sauce for 50 decades

4 min read

LEOMINSTER — Louis Daigneault was 7 decades outdated when he discovered how to bread veal on leading of tomato packing containers in the cozy kitchen area of Il Camino Italian Restaurant, and his more mature brother, Rick, was 12 when he and their other siblings have been properly trained in making homemade pasta.



a man cooking in a kitchen preparing food: LEOMINSTER - Cook Darlene Keefe scoops up a serving of sauce in the kitchen at Il Camino Tuesday, December 29, 2020.


© T&G Employees/Rick Cinclair
LEOMINSTER – Cook Darlene Keefe scoops up a serving of sauce in the kitchen at Il Camino Tuesday, December 29, 2020.

“We ended up fantastic at cracking eggs,” Rick Daigneault recalled previous 7 days.

In 1970, the Daigneaults’ mother and father, Jack and Frances (Ciccolini), ordered the Italian cafe on 555 Central St. from Attilio and Ilda Antonioni. After a limited period of time of transition, Il Camino opened less than the Daigneaults’ possession on Jan. 2, 1971, and has been a metropolis staple since.

For the very last 10 months, the cafe has endured the issues of COVID-19, and this earlier weekend, the loved ones proudly marked 50 several years in small business.

More than five many years, the Daigneaults have welcomed their faithful company in a welcoming and familiar environment with longtime and focused workers, when satiating clients with common Italian favorites.

The red sauce served atop the handmade spaghetti and hen parmigiana is the recipe the Daigneaults’ nonni, Lucy Ciccolini, brought with her from Italy and lovingly passed down to her grandchildren.

The menu characteristics numerous of Lucy’s original recipes, as well as the very well-known rooster piccata that Chris Daigneault, one more of Rick’s and Louis’ brothers, modified from a loved ones recipe.

Louis’ preferred menu item, not remarkably, is the veal cutlet parmigiana, “with a facet of selfmade extensive noodles,” he stated.

The meatballs and do-it-yourself Italian salad dressing are also tasty.

By the decades, not considerably has modified in Il Camino’s homey placing, a fitting concept presented it’s name, which interprets to, “the fire.” The restaurant started accepting credit playing cards in 2007. The kitchen and storage area have been expanded, and several gluten-no cost objects have been included to the menu.

As chain restaurants have sprouted up in the space, regularity and loyalty have sustained Il Camino. Consumers know what they will get, they really like it, and they maintain returning.

“It’s the same foods, my grandmother’s recipes and the similar spouse and children environment,” Rick reported. “People recognize this is a household restaurant it is not connoisseur. When we to start with opened, neighborhood people definitely, seriously supported us. At the conclude of each meal, youngsters get a Hershey bar and then individuals young ones mature up and appear back again and their young ones get a Hershey bar, and it is a beneficial domino impact of families coming again and coming again.

“Our employees are faithful. All people gets what it takes to operate a family members enterprise.”

The six Daigneault siblings, Jack, Rick, Chris, Tom, Louis and Maryellen, all labored at Il Camino as little ones. Chris and Louis have worked at the cafe entire time for practically 40 yrs.

Rick, Tom and Maryellen carry on to aid out as “weekend warriors.” Their dad, now 87, stepped again from the full-time operation about two or 3 years back, Rick reported. Their mom handed absent in 1982 at age 48.



a person standing in a kitchen: Longtime customer James Moran, left, of Clinton, talks with Il Camino employee Ashley Donahoo while buying a container of sauce last week in Leominster. Moran said he comes to Il Camino at least once a week.


© T&G Team/Rick Cinclair
Longtime buyer James Moran, left, of Clinton, talks with Il Camino worker Ashley Donahoo when shopping for a container of sauce past week in Leominster. Moran reported he comes to Il Camino at least at the time a week.

For the duration of lunch time past Tuesday, a handful of patrons popped in to decide on up to-go orders at Il Camino, which shifted back to takeout only when the condition restricted restaurant potential to 25% on Dec. 26.

“Takeout has saved us,” Rick mentioned.

 “Il Camino” suggests fire in Italian and the restaurant’s original is the focal level of the key dining home, which is generally crammed with hungry clients, in particular on bustling Friday and Saturday nights, but was naturally vacant very last Tuesday afternoon. Il Camino can seat 120 people, Rick stated.

In the smaller eating location, identified as the Inexperienced Place, chairs ended up stacked off to the side. Il Camino also has a lounge.

“On weekends before COVID, we typically had 5 cooks,” Louis mentioned, “and servers operating back again and forth amongst the kitchen and eating area with all these various dishes.”



a man wearing a hat and glasses: Louis Daigneault talks about running his family's restaurant.


© T&G Workers/Rick Cinclair
Louis Daigneault talks about working his family’s restaurant.

Rick claimed small business is down 20- to 30% over the past 12 months. The restaurant’s catering business and gift card product sales have specially experienced, and, with out dine-in, workers, regrettably, has been scaled again.

“We went through a roller coaster considering the fact that COVID hit,” Rick stated.

But Il Camino has persevered.

Thanks to COVID constraints, the Daigneaults weren’t equipped to host a golden anniversary celebration at Il Camino this weekend, but at 1 p.m. Jan. 11, Leominster mayor Dean J. Mazzarella is stopping by the restaurant for a particular proclamation, and Il Camino will commemorate its milestone with 50th anniversary glassware, mugs and T-shirts.

Each 50th purchaser will get their preference of an product.

“Chris and I have been functioning listed here forever, but I just cannot consider it’s 50 years,” Louis reported. “You imagine of all the folks who have been here and all the individuals who are long gone, regretably.”



a man wearing a suit and tie standing in a room: Brothers Rick and Louis Daigneault in the dining room at their Il Camino Italian Restaurant last week in Leominster.


© T&G Personnel/Rick Cinclair
Brothers Rick and Louis Daigneault in the eating room at their Il Camino Italian Restaurant past 7 days in Leominster.

This post initially appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Il Camino Italian Restaurant in Leominster has been serving nonni’s sauce for 50 several years

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