In May 2000, sisters, Maria Longinidis and Eleni Ballis opened a small family business, and named it Café NV. Just in case you were wondering, the letters “NV” were chosen simply because when combined, they sound like “Envy.”
Simple and unpretentious, the original goal was to serve breakfast and lunch. Things didn’t stay that way for long. Eventually, a few dinner items were added to the menu, and people started to notice something special being cooked up in this quaint Waterford restaurant. Local newspapers wrote rave reviews, and Connecticut Magazine named Café NV, Best New Restaurant in New London County.
Today, the expansive lunch and dinner menu features Greek dishes, familiar favorites, and healthy-minded Thin’s In selections. Even though the menu has changed over the years, the basic family values on which the restaurant was built have remained unaltered.
“Many of the dishes we serve are from recipes I grew up with and loved,” says Maria. “We always prepare food here, like we would at home. People notice and appreciate the little things we do.”
Three years after the opening, Maria received a letter that let her know everything was moving in the right direction. “A gentleman who had come in wrote a very nice letter to us saying that his visit here was like going into his grandmother’s kitchen.”
Sadly, Eleni passed away in 2006, but two more sisters, Felia Eoanou and Vaso Ballis, became owners, keeping the family tradition intact. That feeling also extends to staff, all of whom quickly became part of the Café NV “family.” That’s why the restaurant is closed on Sundays, major holidays and, yes, Mother’s Day, so everyone who works there can spend time with their families.
“Even in a difficult economy, we will never compromise quality, quantity or service,” promises Maria, who adds that unlike most restaurants that have separate lunch and dinner menus, Caffé NV has only one. That way, patrons can have what they want for dinner, and not feel obligated to spend more for items off a separate menu.
“We have always believed in doing the best we can,” says Maria, “because in the long run people will remember and come back.” And that’s what they’ve been doing, since May, 2000.