Published: November 21, 2013
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.
This summer at 321 N. Main St. in Port Chester, a small brightly lit neighborhood place called zeppoleme opened. At first, I thought, an entire restaurant dedicated to fattening fried dough balls? It sounded too much like a food fad, similar to this summer’s Cronut or the current obsession in our area with cupcakes. But this fall, my curiosity got the best of me and one weekday afternoon, with a carful of starving teenagers, I decided to check it out.
Boy, was I wrong.
The namesake modern zeppole with buttercream and pumpkin dipping sauces.
Marc Tessitore and Robert Squeri, partners in the venture, take food and marketing very seriously. Marc, one of the owners of nessa, next door to zeppoleme, has been wooing customers with his food for the past eight years. And Robert, one of nessa’s first and most beloved customers has many years of experience in branding and marketing, not to mention he loves good food. Together, they have created a warm and welcoming environment that serves a select menu where everything is absolutely delicious, not least of which is their namesake, the zeppola.
“When you have a limited menu there is no reason that everything on it shouldn’t be delicious. We do a few things and we do them really well,” said Tessitore.
Why fried dough?
“Marc served zeppole at nessa to rave reviews, so we started to do some research. Fried dough in some shape or form is served across a multitude of cultures spanning centuries. We knew we were on to something,” said Squeri.
The zeppoleme offerings are broken down into savory and sweet. The sweet zeppole come either classic Italian festival-style, or modern, an airier version created by the folding in of ricotta into the dough. Both come with your choice of dipping sauces that range from vanilla crème to Nutella, lemon glaze to buttercream. And each holiday season they will offer a special sauce, currently it’s pumpkin. The savory zeppole are modern that have seasonal vegetables and meats mixed into the dough like bacon, chive and provolone or an all-veggie version.
There is a nice selection of panini’s (I’ve been told the grilled cheese is to die for). I tasted the short ribs and broccoli rabe, which could easily have been the best sandwich I’ve eaten in a very long time. The salads on the menu are the perfect accompaniment to the zeppole and panini and there is a seasonal soup to round out the menu.
The beverages also deserve mention as they serve Stumptown coffee and wine on tap, which is wine stored in stainless steel kegs protecting it from oxidation. They are open daily, from very early in the morning to late at night and offer take out and catering as well. I can just see the happy smiling faces on the first kid who serves these at their birthday party—the dipping sauces even come in fun kid-friendly squeeze bottles.
If you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well lick the powdered sugar off your fingers and enjoy ‘em!
A café devoted just to the confectionery favorite? Yes.By Julia Sexton // Photography by Andre Baranowski
Shut the front door! It’s like an Augustus Gloop fantasy. We’re talking an entire restaurant devoted to zeppole, that irresistible deep-fried Italian version of donuts. This newcomer debuted in June by the folks behind nessa and it promises traditional and ricotta zeppole (1 dozen, $10) tossed in either granulated or powdered sugars and offered with your choice of seven dipping sauces. (Look for vanilla cream, buttercream, hazlenut Nutella, biscotti, caramel, espresso dip, and lemon.) Or if you’re looking for the whole fairground experience, stop in for the savory zeppole. They come topped with veggies; bacon, provolone, and chive; or sundried tomato, basil, and Fontina (1 dozen, $14). At that price, you can even wash them down with a $3 Italian soda.
ZEPPOLEME THE ITALIAN COFFEE SHOP BRINGS DELICIOUS HOMEMADE ZEPPOLE TO PORT CHESTER NEIGHBORHOOD.
Welcome to our neighborhood coffee shop We welcome guests at sunrise (literally). We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are great for that afternoon coffee “pick me up” and at five p.m. we get our second wind, so join us for a glass of wine on tap and a sweet or savory zeppole.
zeppoleme marks the return of the neighborhood coffee shop to the community. A comfortable setting for friends and family to relax, enjoy and delight. We are located in the heart of Port Chester and have comfortable seating inside and outside – come and visit us.
The Italian coffee shop featuring homemade sweet and savory zeppole, handcrafted panini, fresh roasted Stumptown coffee and exceptional wines. Open daily: breakfast / lunch / dinner
The memories of zeppole served at Italian feasts, family gatherings and get-togethers as well as the old Italian coffee shops in our neighborhood.
Marc Tessitore and Robert Squeri have freed take home zeppole from the greasy, powered-sugar-drenched white bag they come in and given them some class- a little dipping sauce and some fresh roasted coffee too.
While most Italian Americans probably remember their first zeppole from one of those little white bags at the annual Italian feasts, those in the Port Chester area are learning it doesn’t have to be that way.
Port Chester’s new café, zeppoleme offers a new take on zeppole with sweet and savory options. They also have paninis, salads, wine on tap and a wide range of coffee drinks.
Surrounded by menus with enlarged photos of enticing zeppole, Tessitore paused for a second to remember the first time he ever tried the doughy dessert.
“My first zeppole was at the San Genarro feast in Little Italy when I was a kid,” Tessitore said.
Little did he know then that the traditional greasy treat would become the inspiration for his latest business venture at 321 N. Main Street.
Zeppoleme opened about a month ago right next store to nessa, a restaurant Tessitore runs with his father Peter. The zeppoles there were such a hit that the Tessitore and his friend and regular nessa customer Squeri decided to create a new location for it.
“It was almost the customers idea more than mine,” Tessitore said of opening a place. “I listened to their feedback. People went crazy for the zeppole.”
They added the “me” at the end of zeppole to serve as a recognition that everyone has their own special memories with the ethnic treat.
“It is about your story really,” he said.
Tessitore worked in the restaurant business for years while also working in marketing until he went into business with his father at nessa. He is familiar with the area; he was raised in Pelham and lived int the Landmark for five years before moving to North Stamford, Ct. with his wife and two children, two and five year olds.
His partner Squeri was the toughest customer nessa had ever endured, he said. He is the brains behind branding for Jergens, Biore and other major companies.
“Because of that he was always a big pain, telling me how to package things and run things,” Tessitore said.
Over the years they tossed ideas around and one day they took the time to really move forward with the zeppole idea.
They spent a year working with consultants to perfect the recipes, sauces and branding while looking at spaces from Manhattan to Darien, Ct. In the mean time, the building next to nessa became available, giving them the perfect spot for the new restaurant.
They gutted and rebuilt the restaurant, “basically from the ground up,” Tessitore said. “I think the concept is a brighter, more day time feel. I wanted it to feel more like a coffee shop.”
You can’t get a zeppole at nessa any more but zeppoleme has more kinds to offer than nessa fans enjoyed over the last seven years.
They have the modern and classic sweet zeppole; the classic is similar to what you’d expect from the bottom of the paper bag at the Itlaian feast, except they are flatter, lighter and not too greasy. The modern is an “airier” version where they fold ricotta in the dough to create a lighter texture; it is a bit more bread-like than the classic one.
Those two can come with any number of seven different dipping sauces: vanilla cream, caramel, butter cream, espresso dip, Biscoff dip, hazelnut Nutella and lemon glaze.
Then they have savory zeppole: bacon, chive and provolone; veggie and sundried tomato, basil and fontina.
In addition to zeppoles, they offer paninis (made with Pullman loaves from Kneaded Bread), salads and soup. Plus, you can enjoy wine on tap (tapping the wine removes the oxygen so it makes it really fresh, Tessitore said), and wide range of Stumptown coffee drinks, frappes and handcrafted sodas.
After experiencing a great opening month, Tessitore said, he and Squeri hope to recreate Zeppoleme at other locations in the area and in New York City.
Zeppoleme is located at 321 North Main Street, Port Chester. It is open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekends and until 10 p.m. on weekdays. They deliver in Rye, Port Chester and Greenwich.
Remember the coffee shop of your youth? A place with freshly made food, a bevy of people from the neighborhood, and one darn good cup of joe? Nessa owner Marc Tessitore and business executive Robert Squire are hoping to recreate that kind of atmosphere with their new coffeehouse, Zeppoleme.
This little sister to nessa, the Port Chester mainstay known for its inventive cocktails, sultry atmosphere and carefully crafted Italian food, said the idea came from watching the habits of nessa customers. “One of our desserts was a ricotta-filled zeppole with vanilla cream,” says Tessitore. “This handcrafted Italian doughnut was made in house and served with vanilla ice cream and got folks talking about their grandmothers or long-forgotten family dinners or their old neighborhoods. It gave us this feeling that wow, maybe we could build a business out of this.”
And so, Zeppoleme — the “me” is meant to remind patrons the experience is all about “you” and “your story” — has opened next door to nessa, with a shared garden in between, where lingering is encouraged and breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. Stumptown coffee is on the menu, along with a host of healthy yet indulgent items including butter-pressed paninis, salads, and an interesting variety of classic, modern and savory zeppole.
Tessitore is quick to point out that the zeppole are not like the kind you might find at a typical summer feast, but rather are authentic and crisp, made with just the right temperature, the right oil, and the right frying time. Classic zeppole look like a pillow with powdered sugar or cinnamon on top. The savory versions are filled with chive or pancetta and go well with a glass of wine or an Italian soda. Zeppoleme’s modern zeppole has ricotta in it and comes with a variety of dipping sauces, including buttercream, lemon glaze and Nutella.
There are 25 seats in the café; 40 outside; wine on tap is coming soon. “We have a lot of plans,” says Squire, who hopes that opening at 6 a.m. will drive a big morning business. He and Tessitore call the zeppole “memory makers,” and hope this updated concept of a community coffee house full of authenticity and integrity will take off.
Aye, paisanos, have we got a new spot for you to check out! We’re talking ’bout Zeppoleme, right on Main Street in Port Chester, walking distance from our part of Greenwich (uh oh, we’re in trouble). Ever since we saw the sign a few months ago, we’ve been dreaming about the zeppoles we’d enjoy on, oh, say EVERY Sunday morning, starting with this past Sunday when they opened up shop!
Lucky for Kristien’s parents, they just so happened to be in town when they opened…which was the perfect way to round out our weekend of gorging. See just two nights before we had taken the rents out for dinner at Bar Sugo and feasted like the good Italians we are. But back to Zeppoleme…
Immediately, we were happy to see how cute and cozy the interior is. Lots of dark wood tables and rustic tones make Zeppoleme chill, relaxing, and comfortable. Plus, if you’re feeling like it would be nice to eat outside, check out their pretty outdoor garden dining that they share with sister restaurant Nessa next door. Eh, you gonna get to the food? Psshhhh, here are the basics:
- Zeppole: classic, modern ricotta, and savory
- Coffee, espresso, tea, frozen whipped frappes, and other drinks
- Special boxed lunches and salads
- Panini for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
- Their seasonal soup and superfood cereals.
Now, ordering might seem like a super easy thing to do, but there are lots of combos of things to get and we got almost every kind of combination that you could think of. Hey, we were doing our due diligence. You can get 3 zeppole for $2.95 (comes with one sauce), 6 for $5.50 (two sauces), or a dozen for $10 and three sauces. Each extra sauce costs just .50, no biggie. You can pick from vanilla cream, caramel, buttercream, espresso dip, biscoff, hazelnut nutella, and lemon glaze and have that go with either the classic zeppole or the modern, airier version. For whatever zeppole you get, you can take them plain (but that’s just lame), with granulated, or powdered sugar. We prefer the powdered sugar, but you might be different…whatevs. They also have savory zepps of bacon, chives, and provolone; veggie; and sundried tomato, basil, and fontina.
Seriously, we felt like little kids in a candy store, only this time the smell of fried zeppole was in the air and we were getting drunk off the vapors.
Ah, lovely powdered sugar laden zeppoles!We got a dozen modern ricotta and they were light, airy, and fluffy. At first we were concerned because the outside seemed crispy, but when you bit in…madon! Those were some magical zeppoles: light, fluffy, moist, and hot! We tried the thick buttercream that we loved, the gentle touch of coffee from the espresso dip, and the indescribable yumminess of the biscoff dip (though it was a bit congealed). If you haven’t had biscoff, go get you some!
Bacon, chive, and provolone zeppole Just to get a taste of the savory (you know we did it for the sake of you, not because we wanted more zeppole!) we got three of the bacon, chives, and provolone zeppole. Again, this zeppole was just right, and no flavor was too overpowering. There was just a small amount of ingredients which made the zeppole perfect in our eyes because if it was overloaded with ingredients, it really wouldn’t feel like you were eating zeppole anymore. Our one suggestion to them when we left (they found out who we were at the end because Kristien’s mom outed us as OmNomCT, saying we were big-time bloggers…oh mom) was to have dipping sauces for the savory also such as a marinara, a pesto, or a cheese sauce. Still, we loved them. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the classic zeppoles, but…oh darn…guess we’ll have to go back for more!
The coffee, well, we can’t say enough about the coffee. It’s from one of our favorite roasters, Stumptown Coffee Roasters. We drank a whole helluva lot of this in Seattle and Portland and now we’re glad that we can drink it just minutes from our home. What’s even cooler is you can get a big box of the coffee for just $24 or even get the big box coffee and a dozen zeppole for just $30. You’ll be the most favorite person in your office if you hook up your buddies.
Kristien’s steak and egg panini…molto bene
And, then there are the excellent panini. They have five breakfast panini and five other lunch/dinner panini to pick from. All of the panini come on this amazing grilled bread that is perfectly crispy and just a bit smoky from the grill. And, you can’t get much fresher bread. Why? It’s made just a few hundred feet away at The Kneaded Bread…totally awesome place!
Dan went with the bacon, egg, and cheese that was just the right size and had a nice balance of ingredients. Kristien had the steak and egg, caramelized onion, provolone, garlic aioli, and frisée panini. The strip steak was cooked nicely, the onions added a nice sweetness, and the egg was fresh and cooked perfectly with some yolk oozing out after a bite.
Service was good, but was a bit slow as they figured out where items were on the cash register or what a certain item on the menu was. After all of that was taken care of, though, service speeded up. They didn’t do bad at all for their first busy Sunday morning. What we liked is that they brought over our zeppole and panini when they were ready so we could begin the feast.
Zeppoleme seems like a no-brainier to us, paisanos. Coffee, zeppole, panini, and even wine at night? How can you go wrong? We’ll be back many, many (too) many times and are interested in trying Zeppoleme for dinner. They open up early at 6 am, too, so you can get some coffee and dough to go on the way to work. What might be even worse for us (and our waistlines) is the fact that they plan to deliver soon. Feel like two dozen zeppole? Sure, just call em up! Feel like placing an order for your two favorite bloggers ready for pick up? Sure!
We all have heard of and enjoyed the savory Italian dishes of Nessa restaurant in Port Chester. Located directly down the street from the train track bridge of downtown PC, Nessa has provided a menu to die for for ages. But over the years there has been one menu item in specific that people from all over the county have visited just for:
As the affinity for these fried dough sprinkled with sugar treats has grown in bundles, so have the suggestions to open a place that JUST serves them. Well, as fate would have it, Nessa decided to do just that. Soon to be opening Zeppoleme (LOVE the name) conveniently located right next door to Nessa will serve zeppoles (obvi), paninis, wine/beer and more. Unique, one of a kind Zeppole options and Stumpgump coffee are among the many traits that differentiate this highly exciting new hot spot to be.
With a convenient layout there is both indoor and outdoor seating tucked in between both restaurants. Lined with beautiful ferns and plantery (yes I made that word up) the opening of Zeppoleme shines light on this hidden oasis in Port Chester that some may not even know of. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Zeppoleme and Nessa are THE #1 PC destination in my GG new resty’s list.
As if the sentiment of Zeppoles and paninis, Italian dishes and wine weren’t enough to lure you in, the not-overly-crowded outdoor seating setup leads you down a peaceful and plush pathway, detailed with birdhouses (made by the owners father) that decorate the vines to the traditional game of Batchi court. Yes, there is actually a full in batchi court! With separate side tables for participants and cheering onlookers, something in me tells me I will be frequenting this hidden oasis on a way too regular basis. From morning to night, Zeppolme offers a little something for everyone.
As the menu continues to intrigue my palette and the daily progress of its construction nears completion, I must confess that daily drive bys have become a part of my weekly routine. While they are just seconds away from opening, be sure to mark your calendar for its magnificent, must attend opening.
Update: Zeppoleme is now open. Please check out our review!
Zeppole are perhaps one of the greatest gifts given to humanity, just one rung below fire and internet memes. Dough balls, deep fried, then sprinkled with sugar. They bring back memories of Dan sitting around his grandma’s table, devouring zeppola (the singular form of course) after zeppola, making sure to rub in more powdered sugar all over. Or, it’s hard to forget the countless Italian feasts that we’ve been to with the scent of zeppole and sausage in the air. Yeah, it’s awesome to be Italian…or to be married to one, or to be dating one, or to know one, or to pretend to be one.
All this talk of zeppole is killing us…you hungry yet? Don’t worry! Getting zeppole will be a whole helluva lot easier starting in a few weeks at Zeppoleme (same owners of Nessa next door) in Port Chester, just over the border of Greenwich. First off, you will be able to get some sweet fried dough in two forms:
- Classic: the original, sprinkled with your choice of powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and/or cinnamon
- Modern: they take the original, then fold in ricotta, making it light and fluffy
Then you’ll want to dip these in one of their four sauces:
Don’t feel like having something sweet? No problem. They will have savory zeppole made with your choice of ricotta, other cheeses, herbs, vegetables, and other farm fresh ingredients. Also, they will have nice pressed panini if you want something more substantial. But, let’s not forget about the coffee! What a perfect breakfast combo: zeppole and coffee. We feel all warm and happy inside just thinking about all the time that we are going to spend here. Yeah, life isn’t so bad as long as you’ve got some fried dough and caffeine laced drinks.
They’ll be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and will feature an indoor and outdoor garden to chill out in. And, winos, you need not despair…there will be plenty of the good stuff on the menu too. This is one restaurant opening that can’t come soon enough for us! We’re so serious, we’ll even work nights and weekends there, getting it ready. Hook up some fellow paesanos!