Colossal Café: Big on Natural

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Some restaurants brag about the organic ingredients they use in their cuisine. Others boast how everything is prepared on-site. The Colossal Café, located at 1839 E. 42nd St., does both.The name “Colossal Café” for this tiny eatery reflects its owner’s sense of humor.

The Colossal Café is open Wednesday through Sunday, 6:00
a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Phone: 729-5766.


Owner Bess Giannakakis revels in creating delicious and healthful meals from scratch that use only the most seasonal and best ingredients available. Bess uses tomatoes and herbs grown in her own garden, and she buys her produce directly from Uptown and Midtown markets. She uses no trans fats, but “lots of butter.” She makes all her own soups, renders all her own sausage, and bakes all of her breads and pastries on-site. She does not use a micro- wave. Two new ovens have replaced the one left behind by the previous owner; one a convection oven for baking and the other a standard oven for roasting.

The Colossal Café menu is not the bland fare you might associate with health food restaurants, but a savory blend of American and Mediterranean cuisine that reflects Bess’s Greek-American heritage. The prime example is her flips, house specialties that Bess claims were inspired by the Hostess Twinkies she recalls from her childhood. Unlike those nonbiodegradable monstrosities, her pastries contain no cane sugar. They do employ bananas, strawberries, or other in-season fruits to supply the touch of sweetness that makes them special.

For Bess and her two part-time employees, the goal is always to “make what the customer wants.” Besides serving walk-in customers, Bess and her staff are available to cater dinner parties, birthday parties, open houses, or business meetings. She works 12 hours a day, six days a week, to ensure that the food her café serves is “simple, tastes good, and comes at a reasonable price.” Her commitment to natural, homegrown cooking is, well, simply colossal.

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