Travelling through Northford towards North Branford, there's a string of restaurants and various establishments tucked away on the side of the road, camouflaged by identical, strip mall signs and an uninspiring storefront.
Within this enclave, a true diamond in the rough exists at . A slice of Rome awaits. Almond biscotti, cannolis, profitterol, tiramisu, fruit tarts, chocolate mousse cups, apricot danish, hazelnut cream puff, cherry crumb pie...the combined scents of espresso and baking bread, the warm atmosphere and a charming man called Francesco all stop me in my tracks.
I feel transported and I want to stay a while. Emilio Milani is speaking with a business partner and asks me to help myself to some coffee while I wait. His unmistakably Italian accent is still very heavy after his many years in the states, but only adds to the authenticity of the bakery.
North Branford Patch: What do you enjoy most doing business in North Branford?
Milani: I like the area, it's beautiful. It's quiet–sometimes too quiet–but I'm happy with the action on the weekend.
North Branford Patch: Are you from North Branford?
Milani: I was born in Rome. I came here for the opportunity. Some friends I knew from Italy moved to Hamden and got me to move my business from Fairfield to Northford.
North Branford Patch: What brought you into this business?
Milani: I was brought in very young, when I was 18. My father used to do the same thing. I followed my instinct. I cook at home–definitely pasta, definitely lasagna.
North Branford Patch: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Milani: I like landscaping outside my house. I try to travel around the state whenever I have the time, when I'm not here working with my brother-in-law, wife and son.
North Branford Patch: Do you have any events coming up?
Milani: We were thinking of having a grand opening. We've been here eight and a half years, but we have a new menu with more breakfast and lunch items.
North Branford Patch: What do you want your customers to know about your business?
Milani: The product we're making is very unique. You probably can't find this anywhere near here. We brought a new-age product here from Italy. We do things right, otherwise, we would be closed. People travel here to get our cakes. We use the best products, even the eggs in our cakes and breakfast are organic, free-range eggs. There's no bleached flour, no salted butter, no Crisco–I hate Crisco. We use the Canola oil for frying when we fry.
North Branford Patch: What makes your business unique?
Milani: Definitely is the pride in what I do. I'm proud of my stuff, of what I make. We try to make people understand. They're used to what is available, but it's not the right stuff. We make things right. I am proud to teach what I was taught in Italy, some of the best teachers in the world.
For more information on Milani's and the Cafe's menu, visit their website.