In Europe you don’t need to search hard to find little cafés serving gelato and crepes and such alongside sandwiches and other savory fare. But on this side of the pond it seems that most restaurants view dessert as either an afterthought or something to be left off the menu entirely.

This is not the case at Eis Café Europa, a new(ish) spot in Northfield that opened its doors back in May. Eis is run by Martina Eveland, who came to this country from Germany in 1990. Eveland says she was “born into the business.” Her parents owned a restaurant and hotel in Germany and her mother was a masterchef.

“I grew up in Europe and they have cafes like this all over the place there, says Eveland who’s husband Bruce is co-owner. “You can come in and have a cup of coffee, some gelato, crepes. It’s just a place to hang out and socialize.”

The sweet

The first thing you will notice upon walking through the doors at Eis Café is its impressive variety of brightly colored gelatos that sit under glass just waiting to be scooped. While it may look like ice cream, this fancy Italian dessert has a few distinct differences from its American cousin.

“The main difference is that we use a lot less butterfat and a lot less air as we make it than you would for ice cream,” notes Eveland on her biggest seller. “That is why it’s a little more expensive.”

Gelatos can be served in a traditional cup or cone including sugar and waffle varieties. Toppings are plentiful with everything from sprinkles to candies, gummies and crunchies of all types up for grabs alongside traditional syrups and sundae toppings.

Of course the dessert options go far beyond just gelato. There is a list of sweet crepes, with standouts including the Nutella (available with strawberries, bananas or both as well as whipped cream and the famous chocolate hazelnut spread) and the cannoli, which comes stuffed with cannoli cream, chocolate chips, crumbled cannoli shells chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Those looking for something truly unusual can opt for the Hong Kong bubble waffles, a crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside waffle-based treat that is filled with gelato, whipped cream and various goodies. The waffles themselves get their name from the odd sphere-shaped pockets that make up the basis for this dessert.

The savory

“We added the paninis because not everyone has a sweet tooth,” Eveland says.

Good thing she did, as the paninis at Eis Café are easily some of the most delicious around. Options on the panini front include a corned beef reuben with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing as well as a Monte Cristo with ham, turkey, Swiss and spicy brown mustard. By far the standout of them all is the Brie and Prosciutto panini — a masterpiece made with sliced brie, prosciutto, Sicilian apricot jam and caramelized onions.

The sips

Though the gelatos and bubble waffles may be eye catching, those in the mood for a simple coffee or tea will be pleased with the selection here. Full menus exist for both hot and cold beverages, with offerings ranging from a simple cup of joe to the extravagant (and almost dessert-like) creations such as the Iced White Chocolate Mocha or the Iced Caramel Macchiato. Cappuccino is available in both traditional and frozen forms, making for an excellent ending to any trip to Eis Café.

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