BRADENTON -- Village of the Arts welcomed a taste of Italy this week.
Remo and Meridith Mambelli opened Arte Caffe to offer true Italian flavors and a place to relax to the Village of the Arts.
"I'm trying to bring the real deal," Remo Mambelli said. "A simple taste of Italy."
He arrived in the United States in 1990 after years of watching his mother cook in Italy. Her techniques and recipes stuck with him through 15 years of restaurant management in Manhattan, where he met Meridith when he hired her as a bartender.
Meridith Mambelli is the baker half of the husband-wife Arte Caffe team. She creates biscottis, cookies, muffins and coffee cakes to serve with espresso and coffee at the cozy house-turned-restaurant.
"We enjoy inviting people to our house and cooking for them," Meridith Mambelli said. "We want people to feel like they are coming into our home, whether it's for a quick bite or for sitting down, relaxing and reading a book."
Debbie Staib, a Bradenton resident for 15 years, had just finished her antipasto misto, a plate of freshly sliced, imported Italian meats and cheeses and she couldn't stop raving about the food.
"It was beautifully arranged and the best food I've had here in 15 years," Staib said. "And you know it's food that when you eat it you feel good." Staib moved to Bradenton from Vermont and said she's missed the quaint coffee shops and delis found there.
"The ambiance here is incredible," she said.
Antipasto misto features prosciutto di parma, speck, mortadella, salame, parma cotto, porchetta and bresaola meats and grana padano, parmiggiano reggiano, provolone, fontina and taleggio cheeses. It can be served individually or for two people. Arte Caffe's menu also includes sandwiches on focaccia bread baked in-house, salads and daily pizza specials.
Remo Mambelli wants to do more pizza and Italian cuisine such as lasagna in the future. He's waiting on a pizza oven before fleshing out the pizza menu.
Bonnie Brown, owner of the building at 930 12th St. W. and former owner of Bonni Bakes, said she searched for months before resting on a decision for a new occupant, Remo Mambelli said.
"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "We rolled the dice and we bounced around from one place to another before we ended up here. Bonnie thought I was the right one and I love this community."
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.