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Tazzetto brings a taste of Italy to Rockville Centre

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A new Italian café opened in the heart of Rockville Centre last month and is steadily gaining a reputation for serving up the real deal. The family-owned coffee shop, Tazzetto, on Sunrise Highway, takes pride in its products and strives to offer customers the most authentic Italian café experience. While new to Rockville Centre, Tazzetto—which means “little cup” in Italian—was founded in 2016 and has grown ever since.

“It all started when my dad started serving coffee from Italy to friends on his boat,” said Vincent Arena, 24, who cofounded Tazzetto with his father, Frank.

Frank was born in the coastal southern Italian city of Reggio di Calabria and moved to the United States with his parents and six siblings at age 4. Throughout the years, relatives in Italy have sent Italian treats, and about five years ago, began sending coffee beans. People loved the coffee so much, Vincent said, they began asking for it more frequently. So the Arenas started serving it in their kitchen design showroom in Island Park, turning a 400-square-foot space within the showroom into a coffee marketplace. It then expanded into a coffee counter, allowing people to sample the coffee, and then transitioned into a café.

“We listened to customers who wanted food to go with their coffee,” said Vincent. “Eventually, we outgrew the space.”

They secured the location at 263 Sunrise Highway earlier this year; Vincent and Frank designed the space and did all of the construction to make the place their own. Tazzetto serves espresso drinks, gelato, Italian hot chocolate, as well pastries and pizza. Customers can also purchase coffee beans and an assortment of imported foods made by a cousin who is a pastry chef in Italy. One of his products is the ingenious Biscotti Cup: an edible cup that you can actually pour espresso into. Vincent said it’s patented to hold hot liquids for at least an hour “without breaking, leaking or getting soggy.”

From the coffee to the gelato, all products served at Tazzetto are authentic. The milk used for the gelato is imported from Italy and the beans are roasted in Sicily. Tazzetto’s focus is on the quality of its products and Vincent said his customers notice.

“A lot of people come in and rave about it,” said Vincent. “People will say they’ve ‘never had espresso this good’ outside of Italy or ‘this makes me feel like I’m in Italy again’ and it’s definitely awesome to hear that from customers because we put a lot of effort into the coffee, everything from selecting the beans to the roasting process.”

He explained that Tazzetto uses an ecological coffee roaster, which recycles air from the combustion process and uses a pure air filter, so the coffee beans are never touching any of the gases from combustion and as a result, there are no residual chemicals on the coffee beans. They also have a lab where they do testing to make sure there are no pesticides on the coffee beans. Vincent said the family-owned copmany that roasts Tazetti offee has been in the business for three generations.

“They have really perfected the art of coffee roasting,” he said.

And he is not alone in this opinion: Tazzetto’s espresso blend won the gold for “best espresso in Europe” at a tasting contest last year.

In addition to quality, Vincent is also concerned about the sustainability aspect of the business. A 2017 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Vincent studied mechanical engineering and design innovation in society, participating in a number of hands-on projects tackling big problems, from water treatment to homelessness to food waste. He’s working on creating biodegradable packaging for the edible cup, which would result in no waste. However, there are a lot of regulations and testing involved, which can make it more difficult for small business owners.

“It’s about how to compromise between all the trade-offs to make the best possible outcome,” Vincent said.

Not only is Vincent learning how to lessen the environmental imprin of his business, he is also educating his staff so they can guide customers towards the type of coffee they’re seeking. Tazzetto currently has a staff of about 15, with plans to open another location in Oceanside. He said he feels it’s important for employees to know the translations of the names of the drinks, the sizes of which are consistent with what is found in Italy.

“One of our biggest values is simplicity and moderation,” said Vincent.

Visit www.tazzetto.com or call 516-442-1143 for more information.