Pelotoni’s bakery serves strawberry cake, cupcakes and assorted other desserts, made from scratch daily. Photos by Madoline Markham.
As Chelsea residents and seasoned food industry professionals, Jim and Heidi Colwell wanted to open a restaurant close to home, so they looked at what was available in the area, what Chelsea needed and figured out how they can be a good fit.
The result? Italian food – from scratch – catered to the community around them.
In October, Pelotoni’s opened in the former Hacienda location in Benson Plaza behind Chevron and Express Oil Change.
Jim manages the kitchen and Heidi the bakery and front-of-house, with help from their three kids. Anna, 8, thinks she is the hostess, according to Heidi. Haakon, 12, helps out in the dish room and Gunnar, 10, helps take out boxes or do whatever else he can. They like to create their own calzones, and Anna’s favorite is filled with alfredo sauce, chicken and broccoli.
As for the name, it’s actually not Italian but a French derivative, inspired by Jim’s passion for bicycle racing. Peloton refers to a pack or group of riders in a bicycle race, where riders take turns being at the front of the pack.
“It signifies that we are greater as a group than as individuals,” Heidi said. “Everyone is shocked that it’s not my last name. I have Italian in my family, but we chose this name.”
Heidi is quick to talk about the popularity of Spicy Sal, pasta tossed in a mix of red and cream sauces made with vodka, livened by medium heat from crushed red peppers. The Lasagna, Lasagna Blanco (made with chicken, herbs and sundried tomatoes) and Bella’s Canneloni (stuffed with roasted chicken, ricotta, and herbs and topped with pesto cream sauce) are also popular.
Heidi and the restaurant’s baker make the ravioli daily with flavors like chicken and gorgonzola or spinach and feta. The Meatballs and Bolognese are recipes from Heidi’s family.
Pelotoni’s also offers a kids’ menu with dishes like Chicken Parmesan in addition to chicken fingers and pizza.
Heidi said she was surprised to have requests for “White Parmesan” – Chicken Parmesan with Alfredo sauce – so many that they added it to the menu.
Tables are served with freshly baked country Italian bread and dipping oils, and Italian entrees come with a side salad. Their signature Frank Capra Salad is tossed with goat cheese from Stones Hollow Farm in Harpersville, dried cherries, slivered almonds and poppy seed dressing.
Heidi said the bakery is ever-evolving but always churning out scratch-made decadence.
Daily they serve cheesecake, cannolini, tiramisu, cookies and their strawberry cake. Different cakes, developed and perfected by Heidi, rotate through as well, and any can be ordered for birthdays or other occasions. She served Red Velvet around the holidays and said it might be back for Valentine’s Day.
Pelotoni’s recently opened for lunch and now serves smaller portions of their dinner pastas, unique sandwiches, salad and calzones made with ingredients from their other dishes.
So far, customers have told the Colwells how much they appreciate having a sit-down restaurant in Chelsea, but the couple is still working to address feedback from customers and improve the restaurant to be what they want it to be.
They plan to add beer and wine menus and use the bakery for private parties. They get phone calls daily requesting carry out family meals, so they are trying to figure out logistics and pricing to provide that.
“We really want to react to the needs of the community because we want to be here a long time,” Heidi said.