Sogno Toscano: Wine Bar, Espresso Bar And Retail Shop Bringing A Taste Of Tuscany To NYC

Food & Drink

Sogno Toscano, located on one of those windy, picturesque West Village streets, combines a wine bar with sandwiches, a retail shop, and an espresso bar, with inside and outdoor seating. It opened in July 2021 and accommodates 40 patrons inside and 30 outside seasonally.

But that’s only part of its revenue flow, as it also sells its products wholesale and via-ecommerce. Its products are mostly from Tuscany and throughout Italy and then also are available at its New York City café. It sells olive oils, balsamic vinegar, pasta, truffles, meats and cheeses, not to mention custom ceramics.

At its espresso bar, it makes pressed Italian sandwiches and serves espresso and cappuccino but not dripped coffee.

Proving that multiple revenue streams help generate revenue, and having an Italian pedigree, are paying off for Sogno Toscano, this multi-faceted Italian company.

The company itself, Sogno Toscano, began in 2008 as a single brand distributor supplying America’s Best Chef with Italian products directly imported by them, and then branched out. It also sells its products on its ecommerce site and wholesale to supermarkets and restaurants.

“We sell mostly to independent restaurants and small chains, medium to high-end, not necessarily all Italian but of course many are Italian,” noted its president/CEO Pietro Brembilla.

Brembilla describes its New York City outpost as a “lifestyle café” based on its Tuscany roots and authenticity, and its serving so many Italian-made products. “It’s our interpretation of La Dolce Vita,” he said.

Brembilla, who was raised in Tuscany, started the company at age 21 and is now 36. But why did he opt to leave Tuscany, often considered an idyllic place to live?

Though he was proud to be reared there “the downside to that perfect magical look is it’s limited for creative people to express themselves. You’re held down rather than brought up. Let me take myself elsewhere where I’m more appreciated.”

All of its various businesses cross-pollinate its sales. For example, “having a street presence on Perry Street leads to the right person walking into the store, such as a buyer from Cheesecake Factory,” he said.

“It’s like shopping in Tuscany,” Brembilla notes. He says most of its products are exclusively sold by them and can’t be bought elsewhere.

Asked why he selected the West Village as its location for the café and shop, he replied that “it chose us.” During COVID, it decided to move its office in New York, and when that corner became available, “we couldn’t say no,” he said.

Moreover, he says if he were a neighborhood, he’d be the West Village because, “there’s the right mix of productivity, blended in with plenty of art, freedom of expression and creativity.”

Since it currently operates only one store, its revenue breaks down to 80% wholesale, 10% retail and 10% ecommerce. But as more stores open, he expects those percentages to change.

Indeed its second location in New York City near Hudson Yards should open in summer 2023 and will seat 10 people inside and 40 outside. And then its Santa Monica, Calif. outpost also consisting of espresso bar, wine bar, retail shop with patio, is due in June 2023.

In the future, he envisions opening a Sogno Toscano outlet in the major cities, where it sells wholesale, including Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and San Diego. All of its ventures have been self-funded with family funding and known investors.

When this reporter stopped for coffee one day in the West Village, he noticed several tourists. But Brembilla says it draws mostly from the local neighborhood. “The Village is full of artists and they keep coming back and bringing more people with them,” he says. It was also packed on a Sunday when most New Yorkers dine out for brunch.

Yelp responders were mostly positive with some cautionary remarks. Gina found the sandwiches tasty and huge, and in fact, said one sandwich was shareable for two of them. But the barista forgot about their cappuccinos.

And Katherine liked the idea that the iced lattes were all served in wine glasses. And Shannon said it made her feel as if she had returned to Italy. “It brings a piece of Rome back to New York City,” she wrote.

Brembilla says the key to its future is “its people. We’re nothing without our people and management, who share the success of our company. It’s fundamental for them to be involved.”

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