Italian cafe fills niche on Dot Ave.

A crowd packed into the newly-opened Zia Gianna Caffè on Dorchester Avenue last Saturday. Jennifer Smith photo

Zia Gianna Caffè and other new Greater Ashmont businesses were the toast of locals enjoying Small Business Saturday last weekend.

On a St. Mark’s Village Stroll, residents and members of the Greater Ashmont Main Street group toured neighborhood stalwarts like Crawford Drug, Tasha Michelle Kloset, and The Modern Dog Boston. They also patronized newer offerings like Tasha’s sibling shop, the I Am Fashion men’s boutique; the former Seabreeze, now renamed as El Barrio Mexican Grill; and celebrated the grand opening of Zia Gianna Caffè.

The Sicilian-style cafe replaces the former Dorchester Avenue staple Dot2Dot Cafe, which closed its doors at 1739 Dorchester Ave. last summer. Chef and owner Nino Barbalace named the warm, friendly space after his aunt Gianna, describing it as “the heart of Sicily comes to the heart of Dorchester.”

On Saturday, dozens packed in to sample the new menu, crowding the blue, gray, and gold restaurant accented with decorative “G”s, artistic white-framed mirrors, and scenic nature-scapes.

Barbalace’s cafe serves espresso drinks — from cappuccinos to mochas to a bliss-inducing Espresso Affogato — along with an array of breakfast sandwiches on toasted brioscia or dinner rolls, omelettes, and Italian lunch sandwiches and salads. And for the those craving a bit of sugar, a menu of sweet, frozen semifreddi, tiramisus, tarts, and muffins should be just the thing.

Zia Gianna Caffè is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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