Say bonjour to new Cafe des Amis owner

Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Strolling down a brick road tucked behind Sewickley’s main thoroughfare, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve been transported to a quaint European town.

It’s an ideal location for a Paris-themed cafe that has offered up unique breakfast and lunch fare for more than a decade.

Cafe des Amis opened on Division Street 12 years ago and soon established a reputation for its French-inspired menu and intimate ambiance. Owner Dennis Hopper took over the cafe in December and has been using his hospitality and dining industry knowledge to add new touches to enhance the most beloved established features of the eatery.

“My goal is to try to keep the core of what made the cafe successful and try to make subtle change with the times to keep it up to date,” said Hopper, who worked for Hilton for 15 years before helping several other dining establishments get up and running.

“It’s still small and family-owned. We’ll keep it the same way and work like crazy to provide great service and fresh food.”

Since coming aboard, Hopper has introduced fresh fruit to the regular ingredients and started using Mancini’s bread for sandwiches.

“The next step we’re looking at is farm fresh eggs and locally sourced pork products,” he said. “I’ve started meeting with local purveyors.

“This is a small business, so I’m a big proponent of supporting other small businesses.”

Knowing many groups who meet for breakfast or lunch often have a gluten-free person in the bunch, Hopper also put a focus on adapting items to meet such dietary restrictions. At least 80% of the menu can be made gluten-free.

“We have a full line of gluten-free bread, so we can do any of our sandwiches,” Hopper said. “We have gluten-free batter so we can do waffles and pancakes gluten-free. We’re working on figuring out how to do the crepes gluten-free as well.”

The cafe has daily features, where Hopper will put new items to test their popularity. Big sellers get added to the regular menu. He plans to eventually introduce seasonal features.

Hopper’s right-hand man in the kitchen is Pete Decori, who has been with the cafe for five years. One of the most popular items he and his team make for diners each day is the Croque Madame with ham, Swiss cheese and bechamel on toasted bread with an over-easy egg on top. Omelets including bacon and avocado, Greek and Florentine, among others, are top choices for breakfast, as are the French toast, Belgium waffle and pancake offerings that include chocolate chip, blueberry and banana and Nutella.

Salads include goat cheese, roasted chicken, chicken apple walnut and salmon Caesar options. Sandwich highlights are the Caprese, ahi tuna salad, BLTTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, turkey and avocado) and the ham, apple and brie.

Quiche options include goat cheese and leek, spinach and mushroom, ham and cheddar and others. Crepes come in entree versions such as spinach and goat cheese and ham and Swiss, or dessert versions including raspberry, blueberry and lemon, sugar and butter. Other sweet treats featured are the chocolate mousse, pies, bread pudding and doughnuts.

The main dining room, with maroon and cream accents, wooden tables and chairs, Eiffel Tower stencils and romantic artwork, invites diners to linger over their meals. The main room seats 50, and a side room can accommodate 25.

The cafe also is a popular takeout spot for locals looking to infuse a little French flair into their daily dining.

Cafe des Amis is at 443 Division St., Sewickley. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Call 412-741-2388 or visit cafedesamispa.com.