The site’s three owners have crafted a successful Italian-inspired cafe and market.
Persistence and trust resonate as core concepts for Daniel Griffiths, Sam Kalkut, and Jake Loeffler, guiding the friends to perfect their culinary vision through a two-year slate of pop-up appearances. Last month, the trio broadened their regional renown by opening Paffuto, 1009 S. Eighth St., offering Italian eats and treats in a cozy spot that Griffiths has dubbed “a modern nonna’s.”
“We’ve relied on a lot of teamwork, and the goal has been to make everyone feel at home,” Kalkut said. “Everything has just struck us as a godsend.”
All three chefs are Culinary Institute of America graduates in their early 30s and have logged stints at highly regarded dining destinations. Their joint venture is a 22-seat space that they call an “Italian-inspired cafe & market” offering pastries, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and panzerotti. The panzerotti, according to Griffiths, is offered to rejuvenate local enthusiasm for calzones.
The name Paffuto translates as “chubby” or “plump” and serves as an homage to the huge tomatoes that contributed to the red gravy the chefs enjoyed growing up.
“It’s all about staying true to ourselves,” Loeffler said, relaying that the three are honoring the Italian ancestry that he and Griffiths share and the association with Italian dining that Kalkut came to acquire through his father, a Bronx native. “We’re big on believing that what we’re doing here showcases our commitment to quality.”
Their diligence has yielded a Wednesday-through-Sunday labor of love whose revolving menu includes goodies such as the Paffuto Breakfast Sandwich that meshes scrambled eggs, Cooper sharp cheese, turkey sausage, and crispy mortadella; the Formaggio e Funghi sandwich unites smoked burrata, brown butter seared maitakes, escarole, pickled peppers, chicories, and lemon vinaigrette; and bombolini doughnuts.
With these standouts and other beloved creations in the mix, the trio pay close attention to what patrons enjoy to “make sure everything’s perfect,” as Kalkut said.
Later this month the proprietors will expand their hours to include dinner service on Thursdays and Fridays. This will allow them to grow their wine service partnership with Mural City Cellars. Stay tuned for details.
“The effort has definitely been worth it all,” Griffiths said of the two years of pop-ups, the revamp of the space that most recently housed two French eateries, and ample discussions on what to present to the public.
“One hundred percent,” Loeffler agreed. “It’s been great to make this dream a reality.”
1009 S. Eighth St.
Wednesday through Saturday: 8:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m.
Sunday: 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.