Cafes Powered by Coffee and Good Cheer

Cafes Powered by Coffee and Good Cheer - NYTimes_com - 2013-11-24_23_17_49

 
By ALICE GABRIEL
Published: November 21, 2013

Zeppoleme

Inspired by the sugar-dusted treats that are the stuff of Italian feast days, Zeppoleme, in its sixth month, has found a sweet spot with its crushed-Oreo zeppole. A chalked message propped on the Brazilian quartz bar top made the hard sell: “Z-me guests, try our all day every day z-licious Oreo zepps.”

 

“Kids go wild — they’re our biggest advocates,” said Marc Tessitore, who owns Zeppoleme with Robert Squeri. “They’re dragging their moms in here.”

 

Not that a mom would have to be coerced. On a recent afternoon, more than a few mothers sipped wine and nibbled panini with nary a child in sight.

 

Bright and modern, Zeppoleme has telltale signs of a nascent franchise (Mr. Squeri has a background in branding), but the somewhat aggressive merchandising doesn’t seem to get in the way of the friendly, drop-in culture that thrives here.

 

Zeppoleme offers sweet and savory zeppoles, panini, soups and salads, as well as coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, whipped frappés and wines by the glass.

 

I sampled both “classic” and “modern” zeppole with vanilla buttercream, lemon glaze and pumpkin butter. I especially liked the traditional zeppola (singular for “zeppole,” a rectangular, yeast-raised beauty).

 

The robust short-rib panini, brushed with butter and filled with succulent braised beef, broccoli rabe and sharp provolone ($9.50) was downright restorative on a cold day.

 

Zeppoleme’s well-trained baristas know the drill. My latte, made with Stumptown’s Hair Bender espresso, was supreme, with full-bodied foam and notes of chocolate, caramel and apricot.

 

Mr. Tessitore and Mr. Squeri give discounts to local police officers and firefighters. If it is true that cops are serial doughnut eaters, they could get into some serious trouble at Zeppoleme.

 

Read our review on NYTimes