GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michele Minghetti has fond memories of sitting in his grandmother’s kitchen in Italy, tasting the many delicious dishes she would make from scratch.

“My dad is Italian, and my mother is half Italian half American,” he said. “I was born in Switzerland, but I lived various years in Italy.”

After graduating from Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business, Minghetti wanted to bring that authentic Italian experience to West Michigan. So, he went straight to the source to learn from the best. Part of that desire came from noticing a lack of authentic Italian options in West Michigan.  

“I missed Italian food. I always hear that people like Italy, and I thought, you know what? I can bring this with me and provide it to the people of West Michigan who deserve it,” he said.

Minghetti traveled to Italy over the summer as an apprentice to the bakers who make focaccia daily. He learned the process is quite different from how it is typically made in the U.S.

“They make it thicker here. We make it very simple. We only use six ingredients. One that is very important is the olive oil we use. I had to try 12 different varieties of brands to figure out which one is the best because I could not find the one I use back home in Italy,” said Minghetti. “The process of baking is also longer to let the dough rise, which gives even more enzymes to the bread, giving it a stronger flavor. It’s kind of healthier for you. It’s easier to digest.”

Minghetti and his brother, Raphael, started Dante’s Bakery, named after the Italian philosopher. Their focaccia and other baked goods are sold at Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids, D&W Fresh Market in Breton Village, local farmers markets and online. He hopes to open his own storefront sometime next year.

Above, watch the video to see one Italian’s reaction to trying Dante’s focaccia.