For a taste of Palermo, look no further than Gravesend.
Amori e Baci, an Italian café that channels the sun-kissed country, recently opened at the corner of Avenue X and W. Third Street.
Owner Francesco Sciortino, who was born in Dyker Heights but raised in the Sicilian capital, said that the name, which means “love and kisses” in Italian, perfectly describes the atmosphere he’s trying to create.
“When you think of something happy and festive you think of love and kisses,” said Sciortino. “It’s about savoring the moment.”
Speaking of savoring the moment, Amori e Baci has a wide variety of savory foods and desserts, from panini ($7) to sweet crepes ($4-$11) to gelato ($2.99-$6).
The panini are named after famous Italian actors and actresses, such as Marcello Mastroianni (fresh mozzarella, turkey, mushroom and baby spinach), Monica Bellucci (mozzarella, ham, Sun-dried tomato, and a balsamic reduction), and Sophia Loren (Asiago, chicken, mescolin and a flaming Caesar dressing).
The crepes haven’t been “baptized” yet, but combinations include salmon and baby spinach; bacon, egg and cheese; fresh mozzarella and tomatoes; and, on the sweet side, Nutella with bananas.
The gelato is made at the café by Giovanni and Frank Mazza, a father and son-duo who have a passion for making the ice cream — and experimenting. Each week features a new “out of the box” flavor, with past concoctions including olive oil and popcorn. For the traditionalists, there’s still hazelnut, chocolate and Nutella.
In line with its name, Amori e Baci is adorned with photographs of famous Hollywood kisses — think Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Its bright, warm colors also help it stand out on the corner, which used to be home to a parking lot.
“The colors are what brought me in here,” said Gravesend resident Danny Zaretski, who’s already a regular. “It looks like someone took a café from Italy and just dropped it right here on Avenue X.”
Amori e Baci [273 Avenue X at W. Third Street in Gravesend, (718) 998-0154]. Open daily.