A new European-style coffee bar in Westwood is offering freshly-roasted coffee and crepes prepared from traditional Parisian recipes.
Sogno Coffeehouse opened last week under the direction of husband-wife team John and Alissa Vitale. The coffeehouse has a variety of moderately priced options — a crepe with coffee runs between $6 and $8.25 — in a setting inspired by traditional European coffeehouses and creperies.
Opening a coffeehouse was a dream for Sogno co-owner Alissa Vitale and coffee/culinary expert John Vitale from the time they met. After the couple got married last year, the components of what would become Sogno — Italian for "dream" — began to come together when they went on their honeymoon in Paris and Tuscany.
"Now we're living our dream," Alissa Vitale said.
It ended up taking nine months from the time Sogno got the lease for their Broadway location — the old site of Goldberg's Bagels — and when they opened because of extensive renovations and other work done to prepare for the opening.
Sogno's one-of-a-kind coffee roaster, hand-built by the same father-and-son team of steel workers who built separation systems for Starbucks, also took some time to prepare. The roaster is prominently displayed in the front of the shop, where John Vitale prepares the beans they pick up weekly at the port.
"We're one of the very few places that, when you drink it, it's coming directly from country to cup," John Vitale said. "There's no other person in between."
Coffee has been a lifelong passion of John's, who said he first learned the smell of roasting coffee from his father when he was young. In some places, coffee beans end up sitting for months on shelves because of the high rate of production — coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world — and people often don't know what good coffee should even smell or taste like, he said.
"It's crazy how little people know about what's they're drinking," Vitale said.
The Vitales also want to do crepes with as much attention to detail as they give coffee. They use traditional recipes from the "mecca of all creperies" in Paris, according to Vitale.
The location in Westwood seemed ideal because it's at a cross roads of surrounding towns and because the town is so welcoming to small businesses, Alissa Vitale said. Sogno is already a member of the Westwood Chamber of Commerce.
"It's a great community," Vitale said. "This town loves small, family-owned businesses."