Caffé Galileo cre­ates a buzz on Swede Street

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - BUSINESS - By GARY PULEO

“I was in the cof­fee busi­ness be­fore Star­bucks even came to Penn­syl­va­nia when I opened Galileo’s Old World Cof­fee­house in the Gi­ant shop­ping center in Blue Bell in the mid ’90s,” DeSi­mone re­called. “Peo­ple didn’t know what a cap­puc­cino was.”

Wouldn’t you know it: Shortly af­ter DeSi­mone closed his shop, the Seat­tle cof­fee chain opened a store up in Ply­mouth Meet­ing.

“That’s when peo­ple started get­ting ed­u­cated about cap­puc­ci­nos and good cof­fee,” DeSi­mone said.

With Nor­ris­town not ex­actly on the ubiq­ui­tous Star­bucks’ radar as a prime lo­ca­tion, DeSi­mone, who earned his mas­ter’s de­gree in coun­sel­ing psy­chol­ogy from Vil­lanova Univer­sity and prac­ticed psy­chother­apy while let­ting the cof­fee idea per­co­late on the back burner for a while, de­cided it was time some­body brought a lit­tle cof­fee cul­ture into the heart of Nor­ris­town.

“I never let the idea go, and I know Star­bucks will never come to Nor­ris­town,” he said. “All the other county seats have Star­bucks or some­thing else. West Chester had two Star­bucks and two in­de­pen­dents at one point. And it was the same way in Me­dia.”

Since DeSi­mone and busi­ness part­ner Vince Pala­gruto have reme­died the down­town cof­fee sit­u­a­tion with Caffé Galileo, folks have dis­cov­ered the warmly dis­arm­ing lit­tle shop as a great place for not only a world-class “cup­pa­joe” and baris­tacrafted sips like the es­tab­lish­ment’s name­sake drink — a tran­scen­dent cof­fee-choco­late- orange con­coc­tion that sells for $3.60 — but also for hand­made break­fast pani­nis and lunchtime wraps and sand­wiches.

Lin­ger­ing over a ro­bust Amer­i­cano and a slice of straight-from-Dutch-coun­try Katie’s Crumb Cake ($2.25) or a Mora­bito Bak­ing Co. pas­try has be­come a daily in­dul­gence for the shop’s many regulars.

The cof­fee beans are sup­plied by Philadel­phia-based roaster La Colombe.

“We did a two-year search for good cof­fee and I think we found it in La Colombe,” DeSi­mone said. “I found some good cof­fee in Oregon and Cal­i­for­nia, but I wanted to stay as lo­cal as pos­si­ble. At La Colombe, cof­fee is like scotch; they cre­ate a blend and that’s the for­mula they fol­low, so it’s very con­sis­tent and that’s the main rea­son I like their cof­fee. It may sound a lit­tle snobby, but they are con­nois­seurs. That’s one rea­son I like Star­bucks — be­cause no mat­ter which one you go to, they’re con­sis­tent. And I think peo­ple like that.”

While the con­nec­tion with the 17th cen­tury as­tronomer Galileo may be de­cid­edly con­spic­u­ous, you will prob­a­bly have to en­gage ei­ther DeSi­mone or man­ager An­thony Chiar­aval­loti in con­ver­sa­tion to learn about the Einstein kin­ship.

In de­sign­ing the eclec­tic and vin­tage mo­tif, DeSi­mone and his wife, Linda, en­listed the help of a few strik­ing pieces that were gleaned from an early 1900s gen­eral store in Prince­ton, which hap­pened to be one of Einstein’s fa­vorite haunts: a bur­nished yel­low pine and oak counter and a lus­trous oak cab­i­net.

“Einstein taught at Prince­ton, and he went in this store all the time, which was owned by an Ital­ian im­mi­grant un­til it closed in the ’60s,” DeSi­mone said. “We thought they were per­fect for the café, to add to the old/new ex­pe­ri­ence we’re try­ing to cre­ate here.”

Fol­low Gary Puleo on Twit­ter @Mus­tang­man48.

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