Go To Belle
“Some day it’s Sinatra, some days it’s Kanye.” Cafe Belle’s owner, Noelle “Belle” Scala is referring to the music playing (today it happens to be Kanye) but she might as well be describing her shop, where the traditional and the modern are blended perfectly. Alongside cases of pastries baked fresh every morning using 70-year-old family recipes from Naples, art by Baron Von Fancy and a floral ceiling keep the space in the 21st century.
A third-generation Italian-American, Scala grew up in the family business, which started when her grandfather learned to bake at age 11 in Italy. From a young age, she began to learn the ins and outs but ultimately decided to go her own way and have a career in fashion. But after a while, she began to miss the business and bakery she grew up in. That, and she noticed a trend. “Right now, it feels like a lot of things are fads,” says Scala. “I worry that ten years from now, people might not know what a proper cannoli tastes like. I realized if I didn’t do it, it might be over.”
Cannoli at Cafe Belle are made by hand and unlike many bakeries, are only filled upon order so that they’re as fresh as possible. Rainbow cookies, (soft layers of red, white, and green cake with apricot jam and bookends of chocolate) are Cafe Belle’s best-seller. But you can’t go wrong picking something off the menu, start with a cappuccino or latte made with Italian espresso and get a treat (or three). Other favorites are the chewy Florentines and cinnamon walnut biscotti.
It’s important to Scala to maintain a space that brings people together and one way she does this is projecting movies on the wall. Like the music, it changes with Scala’s mood but one hour it could be a classic like Raging Bull, and another, an episode of The Sopranos. “Aside from the pastries, I try to incorporate things that I like, because I think it’s cool to expose people to things, and the movies are a great conversation piece. Someone will come in and said ‘that’s my favorite movie.’ And then they tell you other movies to check out.”
“It’s important for me to create a vibe [at Belle] where people spend time and want to keep coming back.” It’s about bringing people together and the conversations that can happen – authentic pastries just happen to be the centerpiece. Now, listen to Baron Von Fancy and “Go to Belle.”