In the Mint Plaza, right across the Blue Bottle Cafe mothership, this café provides some pretty good outdoor dining options — albeit without much shade on sunny days. There’s also a but of limited indoor seating upstairs and a homier cellar below.
Alberto Avalle, a founder of New York’s Il Buco, partnered with others to open this Italian spot in SF — which emphasizes authenticity over more of the highfalutin fare back in NY. And here they get the authentic bit down to the prosciutti and salami hanging in the rustic cellar below. They hired a Sicilian chef, and it shows in the menu — but less so in the coffee (i.e., no Miscela d’Oro).
Using a two-group Elektra machine at the bar and Caffè Umbria beans, they pull generous espresso shots with a bare, thin layer of medium brown crema. The cup still has a substantive mouthfeel and aroma, although the flavor is skewed heavily towards more of the over-roasted end of the spectrum: toasted wood, resins, and pepper. Served in decorative OperaNova cups by a sparse staff you have to gang-tackle to get their attention.
Some local publications think the espresso here is “excellent”, but we’ll have to stop at “not bad”.
Read the review of 54 Mint.
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