OLD SAYBROOK — Caffe Marche is a dash of la dolce vita in the heart of Old Saybrook. A freshly baked scone paired with a rich, fragrant cappuccino will transport you to a sidewalk just off the piazza. Housed in the historic James Pharmacy, owners Paul and Eileen Angelini share the gracious and carefree spirit of Italy here on the Connecticut shoreline.
Opened in 2017, Caffe Marche, named for the Marche (Mar-Kay) region of Italy where Paul Angelini owns a 200-acre family farm that sits just 16 miles from the Adriatic Sea in the charming village of San Lorenzo in Campo.
Looking to infuse the shoreline with the warmth and culture of their beloved Italy, the cafe has been a labor of love for the Angelinis.
They were particularly fascinated with the history of the James Pharmacy, which was named after Anna Louise James, the first African American and female pharmacist in Connecticut. The couple did major renovations to honor and preserve the space which dates back to 1790, restoring its interior and modernizing the meticulously decorated second floor bedrooms.
“It’s authentic and historic with modern conveniences. It’s that perfect blend. It’s not your grandmother’s B&B.” said Eileen Angelini.
In addition to the James Pharmacy Bed and Breakfast, they also own The Deacon Timothy Pratt House next door both of which are members of the Select Registry of properties.
The dining room of Caffe Marche seats 28 guests surrounded by original artwork from the Marche region. Beautiful wood-beamed ceilings lit by sleek track lighting lends a modern touch. As you enter the cafe, the elegant charm of the Gelateria takes you back to an earlier era of the pharmacy’s original 1930’s soda fountain.
The cafe’s menu focuses on the simplicity of fresh, locally sourced ingredients in its baked goods, gelatos, milkshakes, organic juices and smoothies.
Paul Angelini shared, “My idea was to make authentic gelato, really good espresso and cappuccino. An authentic cappuccino comes in one size with a shot of espresso which is always 7 grams and filled with milk. ... If you make it bigger then you always have to correct for it. There’s an art to making it.”
Eileen Angelini added, “Paul had the cappuccino machine handmade and flown from Italy. It’s the only one like it in America.”
Teas from Simpson & Vail based in Brookfield, Conn, are served in fine china steeped in organic bags pairing perfectly with one of many freshly made baked goods.
“Pastries, croissants, we usually have three or four different types which I bake in the morning. We also serve scones like lemon ginger, strawberry, and multiberry. I like to say that they’re real scones because they have a lot of butter and less sugar. A very, very well made scone.” said Paul Angelini.
And of course, there is the gelato. Flavors such as Stracciatella, Rum Raisin, Pistachio and Irish Cream are just a few choices on Caffe Marche’s daily menu.
“We make everything here, and the gelato machine is from Italy. I start with Connecticut’s own Farmer’s Cow milk and cream, and the flavors are all natural which you can tell from the taste and color,” said Paul Angelini.
The cafe also carries other local favorites Howard’s Bread, Woodstock Hill’s preserved smoked berries, and Simpson and Vail’s teas to enjoy at home. If a trip to the Marche region is not in your near future, enjoy authentic products from olive oil, pasta, Filicori Zecchini coffee, Italian soda, and colorful hand painted ceramics.
Asked about the highlights of owning their own business, Eileen Angelini shared a recent visit by local children to the B&B next door where to their great excitement viewed the paintings of Serena Riglietti, the illustrator for the Italian version of Harry Potter. “Has anyone ever heard of Harry Potter?’ I asked. It was amazing to see them actually look at the paintings. There was a real appreciation because of their connection to the books, and to view this art in their hometown which is the only place in America to see it. That part is very rewarding,” she said.
Paul Angelini added, “I like seeing when customers taste something such as the gelato or introducing things they’ve never had. I love seeing their expression. Even the scones, customers taste them and say, ‘Wow, this is really good.’ ”