Double Duty

Double Duty

When it comes to preferred restaurant style, David Oricchio and his wife represent a case of opposites attracting. Oricchio, the owner of East Rock Coffee, favors a diner that, in his words, “opened in 1960 has staff who’s been there since 1962, and that was the last time they cleaned it.” She, meanwhile, prefers a modern, chic, clean dining experience. Their dueling approaches came to a head when they conceptualized Poppy’s Coffee and Kitchen, Oricchio’s newly opened outpost on Whitney Avenue. The menu and atmosphere meet their middle, featuring dishes and decor from the time-honored to the trendy and filling a sit-down breakfast and brunch void along Whitney.

In Poppy’s spirit, my friend and I split the difference when deciding what to order for breakfast on a recent sunny morning. With a nod to nostalgic diner food, we selected Poppy’s Breakfast ($12), a platter of two eggs any style, breakfast potatoes, multigrain toast and sausage (vegetarian, in our case). We welcomed the accompanying nest of lemony arugula as a 21st century add-on, appreciating the small jolt of acidity to the traditional ensemble. We sopped up every last bit of poached egg on the plate, and it tasted almost as good as it would have in a vinyl-and-chrome booth with a tabletop jukebox.

sponsored by

Windham-Campbell Festival

Next came the Avocado Toast ($11), which, alongside offerings like the Acai Bowl ($12) and Coconut Quinoa Porridge ($10), may attract East Rockers seeking to satisfy a lighter or more contemporary appetite. The garnishes of pickled red onion, parsley and chili crisp elevated the dish with texture and zing. The only problem, and it was a big one, is that the avocado was unripe. Hopefully, on that score, our order was the exception, not the rule.

We were full by that point, but that didn’t stop us from indulging in the Buttermilk Pancakes ($10). Topped with macerated blueberries and strawberries and a large pat of butter, the thick, puffy pancakes were a treat. After a syrupy bite, it was hard to argue with Oricchio’s statement that “simple breakfast food is the best food that exists.”

Poppy’s takes its coffee and drinks seriously—more than I do. I opted for a basic Iced Coffee ($3.50) that paired well with the pancakes and hot sun, but the baristas serve up a wide range of beverages, from lattes and chais to mochas and matchas, with all the coffee roasted in-house.

Rounding out the experience were whimsical touches like the dollhouse furniture, Christmas ornaments and other tchotchkes used as table markers and repurposed cabinets salvaged from the Peabody Museum. The layout is open and inviting, conducive to both solo coffee-shop studying and family meals, with exposed brick along one wall, storefront-wide windows and big plants to soften the space.

Reflecting the duality of the Orrichios’ approach, Poppy’s attracts different crowds, bridging the gap between a cafe and a diner. Whether you’re seeking one, the other or both, Poppy’s probably has you covered.

Poppy’s Coffee & Kitchen
374 Whitney Ave, New Haven (map)
Tues-Sun 7am-4pm (kitchen closes at 3)
(203) 891-7753

Written by Steven Rome.

More Stories