Legendary UCONN Coach Auriemma Debuts New Cafe Aura Italian Eatery

Cafe Aura
Cafe Aura
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Geno Auriemma’s latest restaurant project has opened in the former Cavey’s space in Manchester, CT featuring modern twists on Italian favorites.

“Our family has always loved the historic Cavey’s building and we worked hard to keep much of its character as we planned the layout and design for the new Cafe Aura,” Auriemma said.

UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma owns several restaurants in Connecticut.

The restaurant/bar is housed in a two-story, 87-year-old building that Cavey’s put up for sale in the summer of 2018.

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Extensive renovations were made in recent months to the interior of the restaurant, officials say.

The upper level of the restaurant will feature a bar selling wines, cocktails, craft beers and spirits, and the bottom level will be used for banquet and meeting space.

“This restaurant really reflects everything we love in food, wine, atmosphere, service and, of course, hospitality. We are so happy to add Cafe Aura to our family and to open our doors in Manchester.”

Cafe Aura’s menu was developed by chef Erminio Conte, a native of Italy and chef-founder of Prime 1024 in Roslyn, N.Y., who has studied and practiced throughout Europe.

The restaurant’s client base began to erode in the 1990s when the region’s major employers, including East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney, underwent dramatic downsizing.

Cafe Aura proscuitto arugula balsamic
Cafe Aura proscuitto arugula balsamic

“Cafe Aura really reflects everything we love in food, wine, atmosphere, service and, of course, hospitality,” Auriemma said.

Auriemma owns five restaurants, including Geno’s Grille in the Storrs section of Mansfield, across the street from UConn’s main campus.

The other four — Geno’s Pub, Geno’s Fast Break, Geno’s Daybreak, and Geno’s Southside — are based at Mohegan Sun casino and resort in the Uncasville section of Montville.

A second Geno’s Grille in downtown Southington closed in Nov. 2017, after about three years in business.

Auriemma and his partner bought the restaurant from Steve and Kate Cavagnaro last Spring whose grandparents opened the restaurant in 1933.

The restaurant had received honors and recognition for its Italian and French fare over the years, including top ratings from Zagat and multiple favorable New York Times reviews.

Cavagnaro himself earned a nod from the James Beard Foundation in 2010, as a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Northeast award category that year.

Cavagnaro’s grandmother Florence opened Cavey’s as a modest coffee shop and restaurant, it eventually grew to become known as one of the best Italian establishments in Connecticut, and its reputation was such that the owners were called upon to cater a dinner for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor when they visited Hartford.

The restaurant’s client base began to erode in the 1990s when the region’s major employers, including East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney, underwent dramatic downsizing.

Since Auriemma’s arrival in 1985, the UConn women’s basketball team has won 43 regular season and tournament titles, advanced to 17 Final Fours, posted six perfect seasons and won 11 national championships.

Auriemma has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.


To learn more about Cafe Aura, visit their website

  • Imperial Dade
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Atosa USA
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Day & Nite
  • RAK Porcelain
  • Easy Ice
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • McKee Foodservice
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • AHF National Conference 2024
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