Rita and Michael Linder established Caffe Greco in 1992. They share their love of cooking with their family and chefs’ Ray Velaquez and Rigoberto Hidalgo who both have a passion for cuisine, people and life.
Caffe Greco gets its name from Rita and Michael’s life experiences. When Rita was a teenager, she spent many years studying opera at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilla in Rome, Italy. It was during that time that she fell in love with Antico Caffe Greco, a historic landmark café, which opened in 1760 on Via dei Condotti. It is the oldest bar in Rome. Everyday Rita, who is of Spanish, French and Greek descent, would enjoy a cappuccino with her friends or family.
After graduating, she moved to New York where, she met the love of her life Michael Linder, an opera singer and cantor, who performed at Carnegie Hall and also had a passion for music and food using his skills as a maître d’. They got married and had two children Carl and Julia.
In 1987, they came to Santa Fe and fell in love with La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco De Asis. Next, they moved here. Eventually, they met Chef Ray and created a mutual bond. “From the minute we met Chef Ray it was if we had met family,” Rita said. Chef Ray, who learned to cook as a child from his grandmother and mother in Las Vegas, New Mexico spent many hours watching the secrets of the New Mexican kitchen unfold. He got his first job at the age of 15 at the Cafe Castaneda and is a seasoned chef who brings his knowledge of authentic New Mexican food to the table.
In addition to Chef Ray, we have Chef Rigoberto Hidalgo, who grew up in Coahuila, Mexico. Chef Rigoberto brings his passion and zest for flavor to the kitchen. His homemade salsa and guacamole is prepared daily. Chef Rigoberto loves the kitchen because he loves feeding the customers and making them happy. In addition, we have Rita and Michael’s daughter, Julia Bell, who married Lance Bell (whose family owned and ran Bell’s Department Store for 58 years in Santa Fe) who is a cook and food writer and their granddaughter, Jacqueline Bell, who is 14 years old now and has been cooking since she was three years old. You can find Jacqueline’s Famous Tiramisu on the menu on the weekends and you will want to taste the best Tiramisu in Santa Fe. Sometimes you will find her playing the piano and singing too. Finally, our family includes local barista Derek Anderson who will leave you wanting more of his delicious coffee drinks.