Both the design and product offerings at DORO Marketplace bring a European flair to West Hartford.
By Ronni Newton
It might be located on a busy corner in West Hartford, but both the enclosed outdoor dining space and the inside of the new DORO Marketplace evoke a decidedly European feel, a combination bakery and coffeeshop where you can also pick up a variety of prepared and packaged foods, many of them favorites from DORO’s existing successful restaurant businesses.
Located at 1253 New Britain Ave., at the southwest corner of New Britain Avenue and South Main Street in what was formerly Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins (which moved diagonally across the street), there are cafe tables outdoors surrounded by plants, and inside, a black and white tile floor has been installed in the space that appears much larger now that it’s opened up. There’s an expansive farmhouse table positioned in the center, decorated with vases of fresh flowers, and tables along the sides, some of which will eventually be replaced with booths.
In non-COVID times, there will be inside seating for about 40 people, plus another 16 outside.
“The concept really is a European bakery and coffeehouse, but we decided to keep the ‘marketplace’ in the name because we are really a three-meal-a-day setting,” Scott Miller, chief operating officer for DORO Restaurant Group, said previously.
DORO Marketplace had a soft opening on Monday and officially launched Sept. 9, but as soon as word spread that it was open, customers started arriving in droves.
General Manager Luke Thompson said that DORO Marketplace employs about 40 people, is open daily from 6 a.m.-9 p.m., and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast (served 6-11 a.m.) is the time when Miller expects people to hang out, enjoying breakfast in the coffeehouse atmosphere, or holding a meeting.
Breakfast favorites include bagels, muffins, and doughnuts, and a variety of European-style pastries – scones, croissants (plain or stuffed), and even babka.
There are breakfast sandwiches – including the “South Main” (bacon, egg, and cheddar on a house-made brioche roll) and the “WEHA Center,” which includes egg, ham, and Swiss on a croissant.
Breakfast bowls and plates include traditional eggs/potatoes/toast as well as a frittata made with in-season vegetables, Challah French toast with fresh berries, waffles, and the Shakshuka (two eggs, spiced pepper stew, Albanian sausage, feta, and brioche toast).
Breakfast dishes range from $3.95-$8.50.
The coffee is all organic, locally sourced from Shearwater in Trumbull, Thompson said. In addition to brewed coffee, there is European style espresso, lattes, cappuccino, and café mocha.
There is also cold brew (including a nitro version) and Cross Culture Kombucha, as well as hot and iced tea and fresh juices.
“Eventually we are going to have draft beer,” Thompson added.
In addition to the breakfast-type pastries, the bakery serves a variety of “sweet things” that are available all day long – cakes, tarts, chocolate and pistachio eclairs, and giant cookies.
The “Toasted or Not” section of the menu is available all day as well, with items that include smashed avocado toast, black fig toast, and bagels (just $1 if served plain). Bagels are also available in 6-packs with a choice of two spreads for $10.95.
Fresh-baked breads are available for sale by the loaf ($2.95-$5.95). Recipes come straight from an Albanian baker, who is also a partner in the business.
“The big thing with European-style baking is using the finest ingredients,” said Dave Sudol, food and beverage controller for DORO Restaurant Group and one of the partners in DORO Marketplace.
“We utilize as much local product as we can,” Sudol said. The flour is tested to have the right protein count, and the milk and butter need the right fat count.
Lunch and dinner can be eaten on the premises, but the menu is also designed with many options made for one-stop grab and go, with a selection of salads, dips and sauces like Zohara hummus, fresh pasta from Treva, and items from Ávert as well, bringing together the offerings from all of DORO’s restaurants.
Rotisserie chicken plays a key role, with whole, half, and quarter chickens for sale (with sides and sauces), and the chicken meat used in many of the sandwiches, soups, salads, and grain bowls.
“A busy family of four can grab a rotisserie chicken and sides, and feed everyone on the fly,” Sudol said. The whole chicken, plus three sides (including green or brown rice, salad, mac ‘n cheese, cole slaw, and schmaltzy potatoes) and two sauces is $28.95.
Roman-style pizza is available by the slice in varieties that include marinara, prosciutto cotto, and potato and rosemary.
The caprese sandwich – always a late-summer favorite – features local tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, arugula, olive oil, and sea salt, on a freshly-made demi-baguette.
For the meat lovers, there is the “What’s Your Beef” (shaved rotisserie sirloin, spinach, and brie on a house-made brioche roll), a house pastrami sandwich, or roasted pork.
Sandwiches are reasonably priced at $6.95-$8.95.
There are soups (chicken or vegan lentil), and salads and bowls featuring local greens and other produce with the option of adding proteins. There’s a bread salad, the DORO Bowl (pulled rotisserie chicken, smashed avocado, roasted corn, pickled onions, cherry tomatoes, green rice, and chimchurri), a noodle salad, and the “Salm-on-it” which highlights roasted salmon with brown rice, green chickpeas, carrots, shredded cabbage and chimchurri.
Rounding out the menu is the “O.P.P.” section – “over polenta please!” which is served from 11 a.m.-close and includes Grandma’s Secret Stew, chicken parm, and “Meatball Me.”
There are also packaged items for sale, like chocolate candies, biscotti, and macaroons, all with a European influence.
“This is Dorjan’s vision,” Sudol said, referring to DORO Restaurant Group CEO Dorjan Puka. “He’s been wanting to do this operation for years.”
DORO Marketplace is designed to be “affordable and repeatable,” Sudol said. “We want to get people to come in multiple times a week.”
“I’m very excited,” Puka said. “This project took timeout we’re very happy we’re open.”
The baking is different, said Puka. “We love to work with different flours, different mills, and we are bringing a European bakery [style]. It’s something different. You can come and have a cup of coffee and relax, or you can have lunch or dinner to go.”
Puka said his favorite items at DORO Marketplace are the croissants, his favorite sandwich is the ham on a croissant. “And also the zucchini and ricotta, it’s really to die for.”
The website is still being completed, but Sudol said that when it is up and running, customers will be able to order online from the full menu, pay in advance, and pick up their food wen they are ready.
For more information, call 860-310-2181, or follow DORO Marketplace on Facebook or Instagram (@doromarketplace).
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