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.