Gabrizio Italian Café and Bakery to offer unique take on desserts, sandwiches and coffee

Published 9:19 am Friday, March 22, 2019

NILES — Despite the sound of reverberating power tools Thursday morning inside the Grand LV, Desyree Alberganti let the construction work around her drop away as she envisioned what her bakery will look like once completed.

She pictured the couch where customers sip coffee, the tables where people would enjoy lunch and the bakery counter stocked with desserts. 

Alberganti’s vision is not far from being a reality. The Gabrizio Italian Café and Bakery is slated to open sometime in May inside the main floor of the Grand LV building, 104 N. Third St.

The restaurant and café will offer customers a selection of pastries, sandwiches, coffees and cakes for any occasion. The business will also provide catering services.

Alberganti’s plan for the menu is to bring a tasty twist to a variety of classics.

“I don’t love to always go with a pattern, sometimes I like to go out of the box,” Alberganti said. “Creating the recipes, I want to [meld] savory and sweet, something that is not traditional, but it will be very tasteful, something that you will have and go, ‘wow.’”

For example, Alberganti said the restaurant’s hot cocoa would not be the traditional hot water and chocolate powder mixture.

“It’s thick. It’s rich, and it has a beautiful cocoa-rich brown color,” Alberganti said.

Customers will also find a signature Nutella latte, an Italian-style grilled cheese with tomato soup and desserts galore. In addition, there are many creative menu surprises in the works that Alberganti said she wants to remain a secret until the business opens its doors.

Alberganti is originally from Caracas, Venezuela. Her husband, Luigi Alberganti, is Italian. The couple loves to cook together and their children, Gabriella, 16, and Fabrizio, 13, who inspired the restaurant’s name, enjoy eating and critiquing what their parents make.

“They are having so much fun tasting everything,” Alberganti said.

Alberganti said she wants the food to reflect the cultures of her and her husband. While she said the emphasis will be on Italian culture when she first opens, she also hopes to bring some of her Venezuelan roots potentially to some breakfast dishes later on.

Alberganti has loved to cook since she was a teenager. She pursued her passion for the art by attending culinary school in Venezuela. In Las Vegas, Alberganti worked as a pastry chef at a variety of restaurants. Eventually, she decided she wanted to run her own business and she opened two Italian gelato shops, Art of Flavors and Gelatology. After more than two years, Alberganti closed Art of Flavors and sold Gelatology to a new owner before a job opportunity for Luigi brought the family to the Midwest.

While searching for a place for her new business, Alberganti said she felt at home in Niles.

“I fell in love with this town,” Alberganti said. “I looked in South Bend. We looked in Granger. We looked in all the areas. You name it. When my husband brought me here, I stepped out of the car and felt goosebumps. I knew this was the town.”

Alberganti thanked Lisa Croteau, the Niles Main Street downtown development director, for helping her to get started.

Alberganti said she was drawn to the character of the Grand LV building, a former Niles Elks Lodge. While she plans to bring a rustic and modern feel to the 2,200-square-foot-space, she said she also wants to preserve the building’s original design.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation recognized Alberganti’s passion for bringing small business to Niles. Earlier this month, Alberganti found out that she was selected for its pilot program to support small business. As a result, she was awarded a Match on Main grant which is helping to make her dream for Gabrizio a reality, she said. 

In the weeks to come, Alberganti plans to iron out a few details, including Gabrizio’s hours of operation. She also intends to hire about four people to work at the business.

Alberganti said she looks forward to opening Gabrizio’s to the Niles community.

“I don’t like my customer to be numbers,” Alberganti said. “I like my customers to be family and friends. When you come here, when you pass through that door, forget about your job, forget about your stress, just, sit, relax and enjoy.”