Walking into the new G Café Bakery on Orange is like being a kid in a candy store—only you’re an adult, and you’ve learned that a well-made, fresh-baked loaf of bread is more desirable than a bag of gummy bears.
G Café, the latest venture from husband-and-wife team Andrea Corazzini and Kiara Matos, settled into Pitkin Plaza in November. “It’s the right moment and the right place,” Corazzini says. “New Haven is thriving.” The duo also runs an older sister G Café in Branford, which, like the new spot, is fed each morning by their New Haven-based Whole G Bakery, less than a mile away from Pitkin on Hamilton Street. The cafe only sells bread baked that morning; any bread left unclaimed at the end of the day is donated locally.
The specialty is German rye bread, though you can also find standbys like baguette, ciabatta and pain au levain, plus radiant loaves of challah. If you’re unfamiliar with the German style, manager MariaCorina AlvarezdeLugo recommends the bauernbrot, at $5 a loaf. She characterizes it as an everyday bread that makes sandwiches, croutons or pizza crust with equal ease. And the gorgeous seashell-like crust certainly draws the eye.
If you’re looking for a bread less travelled, try the New England graham for $7 a loaf. This is the cafe’s latest creation, and it’s filled with kamut, poppy and sesame seeds, given a touch of maple syrup for an inkling of sweetness. The $7 fig-and-walnut whole rye is loaded up with organic figs and walnuts, and the hearty vollkornbrot, featuring sunflower seeds, oats and whole rye berries, is the priciest at $8 a loaf.
With so many municipal buildings and corporate towers nearby, the cafe plans to launch catering and delivery services in February, maybe March. Residents of the 360 State apartments have been lured through the door by the close proximity and a 10-percent discount. Yalies and other students have clearly already discovered the wooden tables and industrial-chic chairs and bar stools, sipping Essse Caffé coffee and espresso while drinking up the free wifi. That could mean a straight jolt of espresso, or a frothy cappuccino, or, if you’re like me, a silky smooth mocha without the caffeine, served piping hot in a cup that you can hold in two hands, tasting like rich hot chocolate without the sugar shock. The chocolate flavor mingles pleasantly with the accompanying bitterness, and you could certainly nurse one for a long time in the corner with a good book.
The case and counter spaces devoted to desserts are resplendent with the creations of French pastry chef Kevin MacPherson: profiterols, fruit tarts and mounds of cake, all pretty to look at. Breakfast options like French toast and granola are available all day, including an enticing “pragel”—a pretzel/bagel mashup—topped with tomato, capers, onions and cream cheese. Spanning breakfast and lunch is a decidedly European choice of toasts/tartines. Customers can nibble sweet or savory toppings on thick slices of baguette, country loaf, French sour, Jewish rye, New England graham or vollkornbrot. You might want to start with the avocado, poached egg and bacon creation, among the cafe’s most popular according to AlvarezdeLugo. The tartine slices start at $3.50 and rise to $12.95 for the decadent smoked salmon with cream cheese, onion and capers.
The lunch menu features core cafe fare plus specials, like a recent pretzel bun sandwich piled high with roast beef, tomato, mozzarella and spinach drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and another stacking turkey and Brie with apple and honey mustard. A new and permanent enhancement to the menu is a choose-your-own-adventure option: pair half a sandwich with a bowl of soup for $9.95 or pick a soup and a half salad portion for $11.95. There’s a three-week rotation in place for the soup du jour, and you can check out the posted schedule on the cafe’s Facebook page. Recent choices have included a velvety butternut squash or minestrone packed with vegetables. Among the sandwiches is roast beef on petite baguette with a kicky horseradish mayonnaise and a classic BLT nestled between bread slices of your choice. The salad selections don’t list a Caesar but instead veer toward a less common Nicoise, resting tuna on a bed of veggies—string beans, tomato, olives, red onion.
And once you’ve eaten your veggies, try the blueberry cardamom pocket ($3.45), big enough to share but tempting enough to keep to yourself. The outside is a jumble of flakey layers; the inside is a delicious blend of fruit and spice. Other sweet treats include jars full of cookies, including a gooey-looking, double-chocolate flourless option.
Feeling like a kid in a candy store, yet?
G Café Bakery
141 Orange St, New Haven (map)
Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 8am-2pm
**closed today (Tuesday, 1/27) due to snow**
Written by Lauren Langford. Photographed by Dan Mims.