Rome coffee and tea bars

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 Rome's Cafés & Tea rooms

Coffee, be it Espresso, Caffè Moca, Caffè Corretto, Cappuccino or Latte Macchiato is ubiquitous in Rome. In fact it is almost impossible to be in Rome and not be involved with a quick stop at one of the many "Bar" - even if it is for a bite of a savoury "Tramezzino" sandwich or a refreshing Soda sitting by the road side. Coffee bars and tea in Rome

Beware, sitting and waiter service often carry a surcharge. But it is well worthwhile, especially at bars like Ciampini on the pedestrian Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina.

A quick tip: If you're trying to fit in with the Roman style then you'll keep your Cappuccino for the mornings only, eg breakfast with a cornetto, crostata (jam tart) ciambella ("chambella" - doughnut) or other such pastry. Cappuccino after 11am is not Romano....

 Some of our favourite Coffee Bars of Rome:

"La Caffettiera" - On Piazza di Pietra. Between the Pantheon and Via del Corso. Not far from the Montecitorio Houses of Parliament and the Antonine Column. Given its position and being relatively hidden away it is often populated with well dressed MPs and other locals. You may feel a little out of place in shorts and tea-shirt. Prices are good as are their food, pies and cakes: all  Neapolitan specialities. The coffee's good too, especially if accompanied by a "Babbà". Great to sit, sip coffee and flip through the papers. A favourite of ours.

 

PS They have another bar at via Margutta no. 61, near Piazza del Popolo which is supposed to have wonderful furnishings.
"La Barcaccia" - Across and to the left from the Spanish steps on Piazza di Spagna. Coffee bar on the ground floor, restaurant with attractive views over the Piazza on the first floor. The service is good too and doesn't seem to have deteriorated over the few years since it first opened. Not bad as a meeting point - especially if you then have to make for the Villa Borghese car park or Metro to get back home.
"Ciampini" (pronounced "Champeenee") - On the beautiful and historic Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina - just off the Via del Corso on the Campo Marzio side (ie the side closest to the river Tiber). The church is worth a visit too: it is built over what was one of the earliest Roman Christian churches. Aparently they still hold the original grill over which Saint Lawrence was barbequed (see the Saint with a central role in Michaelangelo's last judgement). Anyhow, a good place to stop at and rest with a chance to check out a shop or two on the square.

A print of the PantheonTazza d'Oro - "The Golden Cup". Via Degli Orfani 84 - Basically on Piazza della Rotonda: at 2 o'clock if you have the Pantheon behind you. One of the best, possibly the best coffee in town. They have their own coffee roasting facilities within the shop. I once bought pure dried coffee beans to toast and grind myself. Recently I noticed you could order their coffee through internet. Their "Granita di Caffè" is a must - a cold slush puppy made with pure fresh Espresso coffee and topped off with whipped cream. Leaves a taste of coffee in your mouth which tastes just like coffee smells - buonissimo! If you're a lover of Cappuccino then the "Monachella" might be for you.

"Bar della Pace" - towards Piazza Navona and close to the beautiful church of Santa Maria della Pace. A historic bar with its original furnishings. Tables outside. "Rosati" - On Piazza del Popolo. Very good food and service. Good open air seating on the piazza, possibly a little trafficked but lovely position. I love the décor. My traditional stop for an aperitif after church on Christmas morning.

I'm looking out for a place called "Gina's" - www.ginaroma.com. Apparently a coffee bar with a difference. I'm told they'll even prepare you a picnic hamper for those trips to the park or out of town.

Last but not least a worthwhile visit is The Russian Tea Room in the Jewish Ghetto area (on the river bank by the Tiber Island, Via de' Falgnami,7). Exotic variety of teas in a wonderful setting, rather like a luxury hotel from Russia's golden age. Cakes too. Good spot from which to take a walk around the ancient Jewish Ghetto - the area offers good shopping and food.

Coffee Bars you will find in (almost) all the guide books

"Giolitti" - known for its ice creams but offers quite a lot more. In our opinion the ice-cream is good but possibly a little over rated and over priced. Nonetheless it seems to have made its way into the hall of fame so our opinion is clearly a matter of taste. The nearby "Piazza de Burro'" is well worth a look at, especially for lovers of architecture: Burro' is dialect for Bureau (furniture). Breakfast is good and the opening hours are long - well into the middle of the night, making it a good meeting place.
"Sant'Eustachio" - on the Piazza of the same name at no. 82, in the Pantheon area. VERY famous amongst the Romans for its coffee and the fame is well deserved. The décor is also worth a quick glimpse: a little tatty at first sight but then clearly a sound collection of coffee memorabilia which must be there since the bar was first started some 70 years ago. Their special double Espresso with whipped cream will keep you going for a while.

The Via Veneto, made famous by the film "La Dolce Vita" has a number of famous coffee bars and in particular "Doney" and "Cafè de Paris".

"Doney" is definitely well manicured and "chic". Even the road side tables and chairs have a closed off area of their own and the tables are impeccably set. The morning breakfast Cappuccino and croissant ("Cornetto") is very good and at affordable prices, especially given the décor you have the pleasure of sitting in. It seamlessly transforms into a wine/cocktail bar during the evening. I guess they make up for the affordable Cappuccinos with rather heavier pricing on the evening cocktails.

"Cafè de Paris" is equally as upmarket and attractive as Doney's. Good service and range of coffe, pastries and snacks. I like to sit at the window and watch the shoppers along the Via Veneto.

Last but not least a worthwhile visit is The Russian Tea Room in the Jewish Ghetto area (on the river bank by the Tiber Island, Via de' Falgnami,7). Exotic variety of teas in a wonderful setting, rather like a luxury hotel or Russia's golden period. Cakes too. Good spot from which to take a walk around the ancient Jewish Ghetto - the area offers good shopping and food.

And now for the famous two: "Caffè Greco" and "Babington's Tea Rooms" have probably managed to elevate themselves from coffee bar status to being part-and-parcel of Rome's sites. Both were set up one or two possibly three centuries ago (Greco was set up in the mid 1700s). Babington's is reputed as being responsible for the introduction of Tea into Rome.

"Babington's tea rooms" - Piazza di Spagna no.22. Well, I once went with my mother and perhaps it was their day off. As mentioned above the tea rooms were opened some time in the 19th century (1890s). The décor is very English, warm and welcoming and the style is traditional, perhaps with a touch of Italian pomposity as opposed to English sobriety. A good sign is that it is still run by a descendant of the original founders, suggesting there have been centuries of satisfied customers.

The variety of teas on offer is very extensive and inevitably includes some specialist blends. Interestingly you can even have a bite of England with their brunch. They've even got Shepherd's pie!!!!! I've never tried it so I couldn’t vouch for it's authenticity but we were very pleased to see it on the menu.

"Antico Caffè Greco" - On via dei Condotti (literally Conduit street) the one leading face-on to the Spanish steps and Piazza di Spagna from Via Condotti. The coffee's still good in spite of the hordes of tourists and the interior décor hasn't changed in a few hundred years.  A couple of hundred years back this part of Rome was relatively peripheral and becoming a centre for travellers and artists coming through the city on the "Grand Tour". Hence the huge collection of artworks and paintings hung on the walls. The quality of the products is good and you can even buy some souvenir crockery. Sitting down can be a little expensive but a worthwhile experience for those who like to be submerged in history and romanticism.
The Caffe Greco is also a place of anecdotes: Personally, I'll never forget admiring a rather large flat-footed waiter battling on in the middle of the severe August heat as he stubbornly wore his tails and bow tie (no air-con in those days). He just kept going. Somewhat more impressively; I read somewhere, perhaps a newspaper, of one of the oldest waiters having had the honour of serving three kings at the same table and being embarrassed over which to serve first.

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This page about Rome restaurants was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia for www.mariamilani.com - Rome apartments