Virna's Café is bringing new flavors to downtown Brooklet, where it is becoming a gathering place and music venue.
The owners, chef Virna Troillo and business manager BJ Blaisdell, opened the café May 5 at 108 E. Lee Street.
Troillo is originally from Argentina, and items on the regular lunch menu reflect her heritage. These include empanadas and lomitos - sandwiches with beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato, plus optional bacon and egg - and desserts named for places in Argentina. More recently than her growing up at the far end of South America, however, Troillo operated a Statesboro-based catering business for seven years and earned a culinary arts diploma in December from Ogeechee Technical College.
Virna's Café has quickly become an almost daily dining room away from home for local resident Mike Crane, interviewed while having lunch.
"Virna's specialty is baked goods. She's really good at pastries," Crane said. "That's what she's known for, and they're all like Latin flavor, so it's like different kind of pastries than what we're used to, but really good. I haven't had one yet I didn't like."
Cordobesas, whose name means "natives of Cordoba" are one of those sweet specialties. Cordoba is the name of a province in Argentina as well as a city in Spain. The dessert is like two cookies with caramel inside and coconut around. The Danish on the menu is Argentinean-style Danish. Other sweets have names like Rogelitos and La Pampa, which is made with oatmeal and coconut. But there are also chocolate marshmallow cookies, other cookies and biscotti.
"It's more like Argentinean, especially the cookie parts, the pastries, they are very different from here in the United States," Troillo said of her desserts in general.
She intends to continue catering events while cooking at the restaurant.
Nick Kollianatis, owner and chef of Holiday's Greek-Italian Restaurant, which closed a few months ago after a long run in Statesboro, is now preparing some of the dinners at Virna's Café. Monday's dinner entrée was chicken rollatini. Tuesday's is soulvaki, a skewered pork dish, served with Greek-style potatoes. Wednesday's will be spaghetti with meatballs.
For Friday evenings, when Virna's has been hosting live music by local performers, Troillo and Kollianatis often prepare one plate each, so there's an opportunity for Mediterranean or Latin American dishes. Regular menu items, such as lomitos and other sandwiches, are also available for dinner.
Virna's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and for breakfast and lunch on Saturday.