Saturdays are perfect for brunch. After a tiring week of classes, assignments, and responsibilities, we’ve finally reached the best day of the week. Though I always regret it, I always push off my homework until Sunday, and I know I’m not alone. It’s not uncommon to find me still in bed, late into the afternoon (I have no shame about this).
But I think I’ve found a place that’s worth getting up (relatively) early on a Saturday for brunch. Geppetto Café is a quaint little place on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. The 93 bus will take you straight there on weekdays, but it’s a little harder to get to on weekends. The 93 doesn’t run on weekends, which are the most common times college students will have brunch. But like getting up early, the trip via the 54 bus and a little walking is well worth it.
From the outside, the café doesn’t look like much, a small hole in the wall with a gray sign. But, the sign also displays its logo: a hand holding a marionette, wires holding up a cup of coffee with the café’s name on it. The moment I entered, my mind jogged back to childhood memories of Disney movies, specifically Pinocchio, created by woodcarver Geppetto.
The interior is whimsical. There are several things hanging from the ceiling. In one section, books are suspended from strings. In another, small colorful umbrellas hang over customers enjoying a meal. Above the main counter, the lights are encased in mason jars. Against the simple white-painted brick wall are miniature wooden puppets — Pinocchios.
The menu is made up of American breakfast meals with European influences: crêpes from France, waffles from Belgium, and paninis from Italy. They have a wide selection of savory crêpes, with a range of choices for different tastes in cheese, vegetables, and meats. On the sweet side, entrees are available as crêpes or waffles, made with a variety of fruits and syrups topped with whipped cream. The menu also offers French toast, paninis, and salads.
My friend and I were in the mood for crêpes, and decided to try one savory and one sweet, and split them. For the savory, we settled on the Love Hate Thing, made with smoked turkey, goat cheese, avocado, and béchamel sauce. For the sweet, we chose the Merry Berry, made with Nutella and fresh strawberries.
The savory crêpe was delicious, with the cheese and avocado blending well but not overpowering the mellow flavor of the turkey. I’d never had a crepe with avocado, and it was a nice surprise. Savory crêpes also come with a simple side salad with a light vinaigrette, which went well with the crêpe.
There’s not much to say about the sweet crêpe: you can’t go wrong with Nutella and strawberries, and whipped cream on top of that. It was the breakfast to the savory crêpe’s lunch. Both crêpes themselves were thin and delicate, fried with a nice crisp finish.
I can say that they were easily the best crêpes I’ve had in Pittsburgh. The service was quick and non-intrusive, and the place is relatively affordable for Lawrenceville and for crêpes. However, it gets busy very quickly, especially on Saturdays. We arrived at 10 a.m., only an hour after opening, and it was already very crowded. By the time we left before noon, the place was packed. Go early, or be prepared to wait a couple minutes for a table.
In my second year at Carnegie Mellon, I’ve been branching out of the typical Oakland and Squirrel Hill food options, trying places in East Liberty, the Strip District, and of course, Lawrenceville. Geppetto Café has definitely been added as my go-to brunch restaurant of choice.