Getting Sweeter

Photograph: Contributed
Above: Pao de queijo combos

When Sweet Pea’s first opened on Sound Beach Avenue in 2014, the bakery and coffee shop housed only a few tables, with a large German Probat coffee roaster taking up sizeable real estate. Owners Rafael and Katja Pita, originally from Brazil and California, had long dreamed of opening a bakery; during a house-hunting trip while Rafael was training at the French Culinary Institute in New York, they fell in love with Old Greenwich. This town, they decided, would be an ideal place both to start their business and to raise their four children.

Today Rafael and Katja remain coffee connoisseurs who keep OG well caffeinated, but they realized that people were hungry for more. So they sold the coffee roaster (to a guy who’s now roasting beans to their specifications) and added more tables inside and out. They expanded the menu with new breakfast, brunch and lunch options and introduced full table service with wine and beer, turning Sweet Pea’s into a popular café and community hub. We visited recently to sample some of the new dishes and catch up with Rafael about his plans.

“Bacoun” avocado bowl
Photograph: Contributed

One of the original draws at the bakery—known for its amazing homemade cinnamon buns, pies, brownies, cakes and donuts—is the Brazilian cheese bread called pao de queijo. “People we’d bump into on the street would say, ‘I love that cheese bread,’” says general manager Julius Khomitch. Now there’s a whole menu of sandwiches based on the snack-sized bread, which is made with yucca flour and gluten-free. You can choose savory or sweet fillings and order combos of both. We especially enjoyed the Big Ben with roast beef, arugula, onion confit and peppercorn mayo and SP’s choice, a twist on a breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs, avocado, spinach, red peppers and cheddar, which pairs nicely with the pao. In the sweet category, don’t miss the dulce de leche; its salty sweetness complements the cheese bread.

Catering to our ongoing obsession with avocado, Sweet Pea’s also has a range of filling avo bowls, including vegetarian options as well as the “Bacoun” with bacon, corn, egg, asparagus and more, and one with sriracha chicken. Salads, sandwiches and paninis round out the lunchtime options, while other new and popular menu items include the acai bowls with toppings ranging from dark chocolate and almonds to granola and fresh fruit.

Breakfast served throughout the day is a real indulgence, with choices like the triple-stack pancakes, eggs Benedict on a homemade croissant and avo toast with Scottish smoked salmon.

Granola, yogurt, fresh fruit açaí bowl
Photograph: Contributed

During the week, the place has a real café vibe, with people always coming and going, says Rafael, who doesn’t mind when customers linger. “Bring your laptop, sit and have a coffee,” says Rafael. “It’s priceless when you have something warm out of the oven with a nice cup of coffee.” (Big sheets of the pao de queijo and pastries come out of the oven several times a day.)

On weekends, families gather over brunch and partake in the bottomless mimosas, he says. To make ordering simple, he has a section on the menu called “The Family” and you can pick “Peck At” (for coffee and assorted pastries, jams and spreads) or “Pig Out,” to add French toast, acai bowls, poached eggs, pao de queijo and bacon.
As a place that began as a bakery and has “sweet” in its name, the restaurant stays true to its roots, serving outrageously good desserts. The latest way to get your sugar fix: new Mason jar desserts such as chocolate mousse, banana custard, strawberry and blueberry pannacotta, crème brulee and banana custard. Flavors change daily, and you can take the jars with you if you don’t have time to sit and indulge. Other specialty sweets include the Brigadero pie, a Brazilian chocolate fudge with almond crust.

Though Sweet Pea’s currently closes in the late afternoon, evening events, including wine tastings and family movie nights, are in the works. The bakery-turned-restaurant is hitting its sweet spot.

Portrait by Julie Bidwell


QUICK BITES

OWNER’S FAVES
Rafael loves the acai bowl with dark chocolate, while Katja’s go-to dish is the Grand Palais salad with citrus-marinated chicken, croutons, green beans, asparagus, fennel and other veggies.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
Customers rave about the pao de queijo sandwiches (called Combos), especially SP’s Choice as well as the lattes and cappuccino.

PARTY TIME
Sweet Pea’s now offers catering, and the space is available for private parties. A second Sweet Pea’s location is on the drawing board.

Portrait by Julie Bidwell


SWEET PEA’S

212 Sound Beach Ave.
Old Greenwich
203-990-0008

HOURS

Monday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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