By J.M. Copeland
For Hometown News
Step into Vincenzo's Cafe & Bakery at 541 Beville Road and your eyes will most likely immediately be drawn to a raised, glass-covered dessert bar encompassing two sides of the service area.
Behind the glass is an incredible assortment of desserts from bakery-style chocolate chip to biscotti, raspberry sticks with almonds, sfogliatelle, cream puffs and more. They are baked fresh and by hand by owner Vinny Graceffo. While he includes the favorites like tiramisu and eclairs, he also continually adds new desserts.
This is a man who loves to cook, arriving at 4 a.m. every day, except Sunday, to begin his baking.
"I bake from about 4 to 9:30 or 10 every morning," Mr. Graceffo said. "The Sfogiatelle takes three days to make."
Fighting the urge to eat dessert first, my husband and I were seated and focused on the menu, also filled with fresh, homemade Italian specialties.
We both decided to order the house specials, Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo for me and Zuppa de Pesce for him. Prior to the main course, we enjoyed a crisp garden salad with the house Italian dressing and a loaf of bread made that morning. I generally try not to fill up on bread, but this was too delicious to resist.
When Chef Graceffo stopped by the table to see how we were enjoying our meals, I learned the wide flat pasta in my entree was rolled out by hand by Mr. Graceffo himself. This was the first time I had eaten hand-rolled pasta and there was a wonderful taste and texture not found in commercially processed pasta.
The Zuppa de Pesce included mussels, clams, calamari, scallops and shrimp with the choice of marinara or bianco sauce. My husband chose the bianco and was quite pleased.
As with many chefs, Mr. Graceffo's culinary education began in his mother's kitchen.
"Ever since I was a child, four years old, I would sit up on the table and my mother had me make meatballs," he said.
His mother also would take him to bakeries, but it wasn't until a cousin, who worked in a bakery, took him into the back room did his interest ignite.
"I started baking at 14 and never stopped," he said.
Vincenzo's opens at 11 a.m. and has attracted a lunchtime following and those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Some dine in for lunch or dinner while others call ahead for carry-out. Mr. Graceffo also is experimenting with live entertainment as his son's band provided background music on a recent Saturday.
A grand opening is planned for August with tickets sold for sample plates of the different menu items and a live band.
Mr. Graceffo is hoping the word gets out that his "cafe" is actually a restaurant with a full and diverse menu.
"In Italy, a small restaurant is a cafe," he said. "People are thinking it's a coffee shop."
"I am not a bakery with a restaurant, I am a restaurant with a bakery."
Vincenzo's is at 541 Beville Road, South Daytona in the Golfview Plaza. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and closed Sundays and holidays. Carry out available. Call (386) 304-0044.