At La Cucina di Hampden House, an Italian eatery formally known as The Hampden House, you’ll find something very special.
Located on Allen Street in the small town of Hampden, Mass., La Cucina di Hampden House has carved out a niche for itself as the only restaurant offering fine dining in town, owner Michael Cimmino says.
Cimmino, an entrepreneur who’s owned several restaurants over the past 20 years, revamped his former Hampden House Cafe in March 2006. He added “La Cucina” to the name – it means “the kitchen” in Italian – to signal there was something different about the place other than the renovated interior. That something different was distinctive Italian cuisine and fine dining in a casual atmosphere.
He hired Miguel Figueroa as executive chef to achieve that goal, and Figueroa has added a unique touch to the menu. Figueroa calls the cuisine “creative Italian.” Figueroa, who has a degree in culinary arts, brings his 14 years of experience as a chef to La Cucina di Hampden House, and it shows on the menu.
The restaurant has a comfortable rustic interior, with hardwood flooring, paneling on some walls, and exposed brick on the others. The seating in the dining room is all new with spacious black booths and tables with either granite or marble tops. Pendulum lamps illuminate all the booths, and the soft lighting throughout and jazz music in the background gives it all a warm and friendly atmosphere. The restaurant has an exhibition kitchen where you can watch the theatrics of your meal being prepared or the pizza cooking in the flaming brick oven.
The bar area, located off the main dining room, offers seating at a horseshoe-shaped bar, polished oak booths, and high-top tables. Three large flat screen TVs hang from the ceiling, and on Friday evenings and some Saturdays live entertainment is offered in the form of a duet – a guitarist and pianist. An attached enclosed patio that seats 40 can be rented for bridal showers or other functions, as can the main dining room, which seats 70. In the warmer months, seating will be offered on the outdoor patio, where burgers and kabobs will be cooked on the grill and Jimmy Buffet Parrothead parties will be held.