Community Check-In: A Sweet Part of Verona


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Dolce Marie is one of the many coffee shops in Verona and has become a fixture in the community since opening in 2017. I love stopping in to buy my mom scones because she insists Dolce Marie makes them the best. And I agree.

Before opening her business in Verona, owner Marie Coviello’s pastry experience spanned over 20 years.

“I went to culinary school in the city and was there for 10 years,” Coviello said. “Then Montclair for seven, and I’ve been in Verona for the past six years.”

Coviello uses the skills she’s picked up from school and her years of experience to bake fresh products daily for her menu.

“I’m trained in pastries, but I’m self-taught in savory,” she told me. “Everything is made in-house. We make everything from scratch.”

For so long, Coviello didn’t see herself owning her own place. Her father was in the restaurant business, which let her see how cutthroat the industry was and still is.

After years of people asking her if she’d ever open something, she started to think about her future.

“I worked for so many people for so many years, and I was getting older,” she said. “So I was looking ahead and thinking about where I’d be in my 50s? And 60s? Would I be in a kitchen, working on a line, and standing 15 hours a day?”

Coviello opened Dolce Marie in November 2017 on her father’s birthday.

Her cafe is nestled on the corner of Cumberland and Bloomfield avenues, serving pastries, soups, coffee, and so much more.

What Does Local Mean?

Coviello is not from Verona, unlike many other local business owners.

After growing up in Belleville, she now resides in Essex County. Her connection to Verona only formed when she opened her cafe six years ago.

“When you’re not a local opening in a small town,” Coviello explained, “no one knows who you are. I knew no one. So that’s a big deal.”

Verona is one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone, especially if you have kids in the school system.

Coviello, whose only introduction to the town was through her cafe, started meeting the community after her doors opened.

“I opened a completely different business in a space that was something else for years. So, it took us so long to get momentum.”

Coviello worked as a pastry chef at the popular restaurants Finn and Salute in Montclair before coming to Verona. This experience, plus her time in the city, honed her skills.

“I’ve been in this business for 25 years,” she said, “So I kind of know what people are looking for food-wise. I brought what I was doing in Montclair to where I am now. It’s a lot of work, but it’s been great.”

Coviello knew the area but didn’t have the personal connection to Verona that would allow her to start her business with customers waiting at her door.

“It took a while, but I knew I had a great product,” she explained. “So I knew I would get there. If I was this busy when I opened, I don’t think I would be this successful because it takes time to get all the kinks out, you know?”

Though it proved to be an obstacle, Coviello enjoys working in a new town and community.

“Every town you live in has a different atmosphere,” she said. “I think that’s why my business does well because I have customers from Montclair, Verona, West Orange, and Caldwell. I mean, from everywhere. And I love that.”

Balancing Customer Feedback

On top of opening a business on her own, there were multiple things Coviello had to learn to balance, like customer feedback.

“You have to remember when you open a business, you’re at the mercy of strangers judging you,” she said.

Coviello talked about learning not to take criticism and negative feedback personally. She found ways to overcome those obstacles and to find people who will always have her back when the negative comments come.

“I had my friends,” she said when asked how she found a balance. “You need support. You need cheerleaders around you, so you don’t take it personally because you do take it personally. You have to surround yourself with good people who are like, ‘No, you got this!’”

Coviello also has found community in the building where Dolce Marie operates.

When she moved into the space, there were no other businesses in the building, but by the time she opened, every space was filled. (Hearth Realty is located there, as is The Collective Bookstore, Brittany Renee Studio and Alex Upholstery.)

“I’m friends with everyone,” she said. “It’s amazing. This building is like its own world. They’re good to me, and I’m good to them. Isn’t that how the world is supposed to work?”

Community can mean so many things. On top of becoming a part of Verona, Coviello’s neighbors created an additional community that has helped her flourish over the years.

Julia DiGeronimo, Verona High School Class of 2019, is a freelance writer. This post is adapted from her blog,, where she will publish more Community Check-Ins.

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