At first glance, Sugarcube in Long Island City may look like another dessert shop and gelateria, but if you look a little closer, you’ll find that it is many things, just like its owner, Peter Zaharatos.
Zaharatos hails from Greece and is a violinist turned architect turned chocolate artist. When we met up with him he told us, “I’m not just one thing, I’m multiple things.” You may think that going from music to architecture to chocolate making is a far reach, but after speaking to Zarahartos at length, it’s clear that they’re all connected, and it is, along with many “nonlinear experiences,” what led him to become a chocolate artist, opening Sugarcube in 2016.
Zaharatos incorporates unique flavors into his chocolates and gelato that are inspired by his time in Greece and Europe. Mastiha, a sort-of nutty flavor that is popular in Greece, can be found in many of Zaharatos’ desserts, including a chocolate mastiha gelato. Mastiha has its own unique flavor but also accentuates other flavors with it, so you’ll really taste that chocolate.
Sugarcube may be best known for unique desserts made from a form designed and then printed by Zarahatos’ 3-D printer, which sits in the front window of the cafe. You will find chocolate bars that look more like puzzles, chocolates perfectly rounded, almost “like god made it, untouched, no fingers, no marketings, nothing.” This is all because of the casting process (starting first with the 3-D printer, then the cast is made), a process that has long fascinated Zaharatos. Also a working architect, Zaharatos was the lead designer for the Second Avenue Subway and College Point Police Academy.
Zaharatos is fascinated by the “in between,” and the idea of metamorphosis. “Chocolate is a metamorphosis between a liquid and a solid and then the form is revealed.” Zaharatos chose to set up shop in Long Island City because he sees LIC as an in between, too, finding it to be a place that is geographically and culturally in the middle: physically in between Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the rest of Queens, as well as being in between the old and new worlds of Queens.
A Bay Ridge resident, Zaharatos mostly drives to work after stopping at Greek grocery stores before heading into Long Island City, but has taken NYC Ferry to Governors Island with his family and says that many of his customers take the ferry to or from Long Island City. We asked Zaharatos what he would name a ferry if he got the chance. He chose Apollo, the Greek God of the Sun, the Light, the Music, and Prophecy.
Sugarcube is just a 10-minute walk from the Hunters Point South ferry stop along the East River route at 10-16 50th Avenue, between Vernon Boulevard and 11th Street.