June 17, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
An Italian café opened Thursday on the ground floor of a new high-rise apartment building on the Long Island City waterfront.
Santa Chiaro Café opened at 52-41 Center Blvd., inside a 44-story residential building that is part of the TF Cornerstone two-tower development on Parcel C of Hunters Point South.
The café, which is around 850 square feet in size and has sweeping views of Manhattan, focuses heavily on contemporary Italian pastries and coffee. It also offers paninis, salads, desserts and small savory meals like egg and antipasti dishes.
The establishment is owned by Cristiano Rossi, an Italian immigrant who lives in Long Island City with his wife Adriana De Martino, who was raised in Queens. The café is the first business that Rossi solely owns.
The business was initially scheduled to open in December but Rossi, 47, said he faced lengthy construction delays.
Nevertheless, Rossi said he is delighted to finally open the café, which also features an outdoor area that looks out toward the East River. He said that he had wanted to open a business on Center Boulevard for more than a decade, but it never materialized.
“My dream of opening an authentic Italian café on the waterfront has finally come true,” Rossi said. “Our outdoor space is stunning, complemented by unobstructed views of Manhattan.”
Rossi said the café also offers a wide range of small cakes such as the Amalfi, which is sponge cake filled and glazed with lemon cream, and the Salerno, which is made from hazelnut biscuit, ricotta and rum.
The café also serves classic Italian cakes like panettones, pastieras and caprese cakes, Rossi said.
He said that Michelin star chefs will be visiting the café from Italy on a rotating basis to make new dessert recipes.
For its coffees, the café uses a variety of different coffee beans including a specialty Neapolitan blend that gives a more creamy and chocolaty flavor, he said. The cafe also offers a range of gelatos. Beer and wine is also available.
The café has a marble counter and the walls are a mix of wood and tiles imported from Italy. The venue seats about 15 people inside.
Rossi has around 25 outdoor seats, with most of them in a large plaza area in front of the café. The plaza is part of the TF Cornerstone two-tower development and Rossi said the developer has big plans for the space later this summer.
Starting after July 4, Rossi said, TF Cornerstone will be having movie nights every Monday and Tuesday, while there will be live music every Wednesday and Thursday evening.
Santa Chiaro Café is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Sundays.