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Downtown's Cafe Strada Sells Handmade Gelato and One Looker of a Cheesecake

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If the weather weren't so stupid this might actually be useful information. Do yourself a favor, bookmark this post and save it for later because when the sun re-emerges, Cafe Strada could end up on your permanent rotation.

Gianpiero Lorenzo and David Pedack opened the tiny shop downtown about a month ago. Look for the blue structure that might be the ghost of a newsstand between Campisi's on Elm Street and Sol on Main Street. If that's confusing just ask people where the giant eyeball is. Strada is right next to it.

If you stand close enough to the shop and squint you could almost pretend you're in Italy. Pedack and Lorenzo are constantly bumping into each other as they make drinks and scoop gelato behind the impossibly small counter. There's an open Pellegrino on a table and the espresso machine is hissing. All that's missing is a sexy brunette sipping a glass of wine and puffing on a cigarette at one of the tables. Oh, and then there's the chairs and tables shaped like melting ice cream cones -- yep, we're back in the States.

I tried warming up with a medium latte, and when that didn't work I tried a big slice of cheesecake. This picture doesn't really do they cake justice, you have to see it while the whole cake is still in the case. The blend of cheese and eggs rose when it was baked, but then collapsed leaving a perfectly ruffled ridge around the perimeter. It's a looker.

It doesn't taste bad, either. The cake that lined the bottom of my slice was a little dry, but the custard was moist, light and almost like a soufflé. It wasn't overly sweet. Dammit, I should have gotten two of them.

If you're not feeling sweets there are sandwiches potato salad and other savories available, too. You could eat here all day if you wanted to.

Cafe Strada, 1501 Elm St.

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