Cooking has always been part of Davone Mitchell’s life. Mitchell came from a family of chefs, including his mother and aunts, where everyone made the ultimate spreads.
“I mean everything,” Mitchell said. “You go there would be five different pies, five different cakes, relish platters, meat platters, barbecue crab, fruit platters, everything.”
We wanted it to provide a high quality home-made product, a fun atmosphere and a place where Jamestown could feel good.
Davone Mitchell, owner of Davoni
Her mother won a food contest through Lawry’s in Los Angeles, where Mitchell is from, and won a lifetime supply of the company’s seasoning with her name on it. Mitchell said her mother is her standard when it comes to cooking.
“When I mean one-stop shop, I mean she can cook, she can do any type of cuisine, steaks, seafood, you name it,” he said.
Mitchell eventually joined the Navy, where he went to school and was taken under the wings of a talented leader. In the Navy, he cooked meals for about 400 people three times a day.
With Mitchell’s background and experience in the kitchen, it’s no surprise he opened Davoni’s in Jamestown. Mitchell also owns the Depot Family Restaurant.
Mitchell said his passion and love for fine dining and the need for new restaurants in Jamestown led him to open Davoni’s, an Italian-style restaurant.
“We wanted it to provide a high-quality product that was homemade, a great atmosphere and a place where Jamestown felt good,” he said.
Before Davoni’s opened in 2020, Mitchell researched Italy and its different cuisines. He said the cute, intimate little spot where Davoni is is comparable to what you’d see in any Italian bistro or restaurant in Italy.
“They’re doing this to make it exclusive,” he said. “It also helps, in that there are so many people who can come in, so…it’s more exclusive.”
He said many places that serve high-quality food only serve a limited number of customers in a day. He also said the service was better and it didn’t take a lot of people to run a small restaurant.
“It makes it more family oriented with the staff you have,” he said.
Mitchell said the warm, calm atmosphere with soft music makes Davoni a great place for a date night or just relaxing with a glass of wine or a specialty cocktail.
Mitchell is an owner who works daily at Davoni to prepare and cook meals. Everything is made from scratch by people who care about the food that is prepared, he said.
He trained a chef, who is a chef, and has other chefs in training. He said the chefs had experience making sauces, dressings and other items and knew how to cut meat the right way.
“We show them how to do everything,” he said. “We are on it.”
He said having well-trained people helps with quality control of meals. In some restaurants, management and owners leave in the afternoon, which can exacerbate quality control issues.
“Now the restaurant becomes a whole other restaurant where you’re not there,” Mitchell said. “Every plate that comes out, you have to make sure it’s good.”
He said Davoni’s is different from anything in Jamestown and has its own identity.
“It’s not like any other place trying to emulate another menu,” he said.
Davoni’s niche is homemade everything from sauces such as marinara, alfredo, bolgonese or vodka to a good variety like certified Angus beef ribeyes, tenderloins and sirloins, seafood, pasta, meatballs meat and even appetizers, and that’s what makes the restaurant unique, Mitchell said.
“We also wanted to emphasize steaks and seafood because if you go to Italy, they eat everything,” he said. “It’s not just pasta. Lots of fish, lots of beef, lots of aged ham like prosciutto, capicola, all different types of meats. They are past masters in raising their meats. Cheese of course. Quality cheeses. We have some of the best cheeses you can get in the world.
He said the marinara and alfredo sauces are freshly made daily and include fresh herbs, while some are made with every order.
The menu is also designed to be affordable for everyone, he said. The menu includes pasta dishes that cost around $14 to $15 and some go as high as $30 when items such as seafood are added.
“We didn’t need to scam people,” he said. “You don’t have to be greedy.”
If Davoni’s has produce on hand and a customer requests off-menu items, Mitchell said the restaurant is more than willing to accommodate the person’s needs and prepare the food the way the customer likes it.
He said some of the bestsellers include chicken alfredo pesto tortellini, red prawn fettuccine, lasagna and pasta milano. He said the Italian flag ravioli is a unique item that is served to the customer and resembles the Italian flag and includes green pesto, white alfredo and red marinara sauces.
Mitchell said Davoni’s Chicken Parmesan was voted the best in North Dakota on Eat This, Not That!, an online food website.
“It’s a homemade product that we make ourselves,” he said.
He said Davoni’s cooked for a few senators and a United Nations ambassador, who told Mitchell the restaurant had better lasagna than Vatican City in Italy.
Clients include tourists and individuals from Bismarck, Fargo and the Jamestown area.
“They see our reviews and they see our menu, and they want to say, ‘OK, let’s see what this place is,'” he said.
Mitchell said challenges include navigating food inflation, which is around 25%, and sometimes finding quality people to work in the restaurant, even as the staffing issue improves. He said operating the business during the coronavirus pandemic has also been a challenge.
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113 1st Street West
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday