A taste of Italy is coming to Penticton.
Caffe d’Italia, a new authentic Italian cafe, is set to open up shop any week now.
The space at 449 Main Street was left vacant in September when Saint Germaine Cafe and Gallery called it quits after a six-year run in Penticton.
Once Saint Germaine shut down, Don Gigliotti pounced on the opportunity to bring his dream of opening an authentic Italian cafe to life.
Gigliotti, who also owns Corleone’s Pizzeria on Main Street, said he has a vision of bringing a unique cafe with a distinctly Italian vibe to Penticton. It will be the city’s only Italian coffee spot.
Caffe d’Italia won’t be like what you would find at a run-of-the-mill chain cafe — Gigliotti’s newest endeavour is all about representing the Bel Paese.
From paninis to biscotti and, of course, Italian espresso, everything served at Caffe d’Italia will be what you would find at a typical cafe in Milan or Venice. The coffee beans are imported straight from Italy.
After a sip of a proper Italian coffee, it will be hard to go back to Starbucks, said Gigliotti.
“Most of the coffee places here… they want a Salt Spring Island coffee or a Kelowna coffee. My coffee comes from Italy,” Gigliotti said.
“It’s the product that I’m bringing in that’s going to differentiate me from the next guy.”
While prices could still change, Gigliotti’s menu sticks to the classics and keeps prices fair. For coffee, Caffe d’Italia will serve the staples: espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, americano, mochas and drip coffee. All espresso and steamed milk based drinks are $4, espresso and americanos will be $3, while customers will be able to grab a drip coffee for $2.
For food, the menu features a variety of paninis for $7 , Italian soup for $6 and various Italian pastries like biscotti, cannoli and panettone — an Italian type of sweet bread originally from Milan.
|Panettone is an Italian type of sweet bread loaded with candied citron, lemon zest and raisins, and baked in a cylinder, giving it a distinctive look. (Pixabay photo)|
Despite what many people assume, Gigliotti was born in B.C., not Italy. His parents immigrated from Italy to Canada and Gigliotti often visits the country.
“People can’t believe I was born here because my voice and the way I carry myself but all my heritage is Italian,” he said.
Coffee culture in Italy is different than in Canada, and Gigliotti is excited to let Pentictonites know what it’s all about.
“Most people don’t know a lot about what I’ve got, like even what a cannoli is,” he said. “So I’ll be here educating people and keeping things different.”
For those who don’t know, cannoli are tasty Italian pastries consisting of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta.
Since he moved to Penticton from East Vancouver, Gigliotti has a history of giving back to the community. In March, he offered free pizza to people affected by layoffs in the food industry, eventually leading him to give free pizza to anybody in need of food.
He plans to keep that giving tradition going at Caffe d’Italia, with a charity fundraiser in the works for the cafe’s opening day.
Opening a new business during the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a unique challenge for Gigliotti, but he made it work in the end. After over two-months of renovations, which required additional COVID-safety precautions, the cafe is almost ready to open.
The last hurdle is passing final inspection, which is coming up in the next few days.
Gigliotti expects to be up and running within one to two weeks from now. At the very latest, he expects the cafe will be open in the New Year.
As a life-long restauranteur, opening an authentic Italian coffee shop has always been a dream of Gigliotti’s. Once the opportunity arose, he wasn’t going to pass it up. Even though Gigliotti himself admits opening a business right now is a big risk, it’s a risk he’d likely take a million times over.
“Everybody says you gotta be crazy to open a business during COVID,” he said. “It’s tough times but I have faith I’ll draw people in.”