Trip Report: Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 (Sant’Agata sui due Golfi, Italy)

Posted by on 08 Dec 2013 | Filed under: Foreign Brew, Restaurant Coffee, Roasting

This restaurant is often considered the best in Southern Italy and certainly one of its most famous. It’s earned two Michelin stars, and it’s known as something of a Chez Panisse of Italy: an emphasis on locally grown ingredients sourced from the chef’s 6 hectare farm, Le Peracciole (purchased in 1990), but elevated to a fine dining experience.

Located at the heart of the remote hill town of Sant’Agata sui due Golfi, it’s situated on a mountain ridge that overlooks both the Gulf of Naples and the Gulf of Salerno (hence the town’s name). Driving up in a torrential downpour, we accidentally pulled in for cover into the garage for the restaurant service staff — decorated with large murals of various fruits and vegetables — and arrived via the service entrance. Not that it mattered, because whether we stumbled upon the pre-service staff dinner or found ourselves in part of the kitchen, the staff were exceptionally friendly and accommodating.

Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 - in less stormy times Kitchen prep inside Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890

Alfonso Costanzo Iaccarino started this operation as a hotel in 1890. Today it is both a hotel and restaurant (the latter begun in 1973) owned and operated by Livia and Alfonso Iaccarino. The two patrol the dining room with its pink and white walls, ensuring their brigade offers impeccable service (and it very much is).

One of the few buildings on site is La Cantina, their world-famous, 25,000-bottle wine cellar. It begins as you enter a 17th century Neapolitan building. It then leads to an earlier wing from the 16th century. And it then descends some 40 meters at an angle into the earth into what was originally a 6th century Etruscan tomb. At the bottom of the tomb they also age some of their cheeses.

Don Alfonso 1890's custom coffee blend from Caffè Maresca Old bottles inside Don Alfonso 1890's La Cantina

Descending into Don Alfonso 1890's 6th century Etruscan tomb Inside Don Alfonso 1890's 6th century Etruscan tomb

Besides the over-the-top tasting menu (eel mousse?!), they also offer a coffee service that aspires to the level of uniqueness and memorability as the food here. (Contrast with the more pedestrian — albeit top-quality — approach taken by Copenhagen’s Noma.)

They wood-roast their own private coffee label through nearby Caffè Maresca, and they swear by La San Marco as the best espresso machines they can get their hands on. They pull very short shots of espresso with a darker and medium brown crema and heavy chocolate tones to the flavor, and they serve it in cartoon-colorful Solimene ceramic cups from Vietri sul Mare with lids and two saucers.

Eel mousse? Part of a tasting course at Don Alfonso 1890 Food porn: pasta and black truffles at Don Alfonso 1890

Inside Don Alfonso 1890's dining room Alfonso Iaccarino patrolling the dining room at Don Alfonso 1890

To create a more unique experience, they serve their espresso with five different sugars — each produced at different levels of refinement. It may not be close to the best espresso we’ve ever had, but they clearly make the effort and do what you’d expect from such a special restaurant to make the coffee service equally as memorable. At least more than just the sticker shock you get from its €5 price tag.

As over-the-top Italian restaurants go, Don Alfonso 1890 offers some of the best service we’ve experienced anywhere. The food is outstanding and showcases an emphasis on simple, quality ingredients for which Southern Italy is known. That said, we’d still have to give a slight edge to more of the culinary refinement you’ll find at a place like Guido Ristorante Pollenzo up north.

Read the review of Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 in Sant’Agata sui due Golfi, Italy.

French press coffee being prepared as part of a dessert in the kitchen at Don Alfonso 1890 Sugar at various levels of refinement at Don Alfonso 1890

Coffee service at Don Alfonso 1890 Espresso at Don Alfonso 1890

Trip Report: La Zagara (Positano, Italy)

Posted by on 07 Dec 2013 | Filed under: Foreign Brew

Positano may be a gorgeous place, but it is overrun with tourists. But given all there is to look at and experience, Positano is one of those rare places where you don’t seem to mind it too much. It’s frequently one of the costs of a beautiful place.

Opening in 1950 as a pastry shop, La Zagara resides along a pedestrian walkway that leads to the famous and fashionable Positano beach. The location shows a bit of its worn age — especially in the wood paneling in the (full) bar area.

Entrance to La Zagara along a Positano pedestrian walkway to the beach La Zagara breaks out the fine grappa for the tourists

For the tourists, they offer a great selection of high-end grappe (Berta Roccanivo, etc.). While the entirely Napoli region loves to partake in a digestivo, cafés on the Amalfi Coast seem to have particularly taken to selling high-end grappa as take-home gifts and mementos.

La Zagara still offers notable pastries — including an excellent cannoli. Cannoli may have been put on the map by the Sicilians, but the Neapolitans have made their own variant somewhat famous. There’s also a large garden bar with outdoor views under canopies that overlook one of Positano’s many canyon-like features. It’s a tempting place to kill time, having done that ourselves 11 years ago.

Entrance to La Zagara's garden patio La Zagara's time-killing patio

Using dueling two-group La Cimbali machines at the bar, they pull shots of Caffè Maresca with a medium brown crema with lighter heat spot and some small bubbling. It’s served short in Güral Porselen logo cups. It has a flavor of some tobacco layered with Maresca’s wood-roasting.

An old fashioned €1 for tourist central. Rated 2 tazzine and 1 chicco in the 2014 Gambero Rosso Bar d’Italia.

Read the review of La Zagara in Positano, Italy.

La Cimbali machine and packed bar at La Zagara The La Zagara espresso

Trip Report: La Brezza Net Art Café (Positano, Italy)

Posted by on 02 Dec 2013 | Filed under: Café Society, Foreign Brew

Positano is an impossible town. By that, I mean that the place even exists — grafted vertically onto cliffs overlooking a gorgeous sea — defies belief. Glimpsing just a single photo of the place was all I needed to convince me that I had to first come here nearly 12 years ago. And I certainly am not the only one.

John Steinbeck visited Positano on multiple occasions. His essay in the May 1953 issue of Harper’s Bazaar is said to have put Positano on the tourist map. Which then lead to inspiring Patricia Highsmith to write The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1955. Her novel became a 1999 film that was also partly shot in Positano.

The impossible town of Positano. La Brezza resides to the lower left of the domed church. Looking out to the sea from Positano

Positano clinging to the cliffs as seen from the small hamlet of Montepertuso Ominous skies along the beach in front of La Brezza Net Art Café

A decade later, Positano inspired a visiting Mick Jagger and Keith Richards from The Rolling Stones to pen the song “Midnight Rambler” — from the brilliant 1969 Let It Bleed album — in its cafés. La Brezza Net Art Café wasn’t around at the time for Jagger and Richards, but there’s a high probability that one of the cafés where they did write it stood in La Brezza’s place back then.

Because La Brezza makes the most of its prime beach location in fashionable Positano. There are two floors inside that feel a little bit cramped, but most of the activity of its patrons naturally takes place on the front patio under canvases or among the sidewalk tables along the paved walkway down to the beach.

Corner entrance to La Brezza Net Art Café Curious clientele at Positano's La Brezza Net Art Café

They serve beachside gelato and various lunch items with a view over the sand and the small, wooden fishing boats beached on the shore. Inside their espresso machine might look like a chrome Fiorenzato, but it is a two-group Esprèsso by SAB.

Using Irio Caffé from just over the Amalfi Coast mountain range, they pull shots with a darker, rich-looking crema with the occasional lighter medium brown heat spot. Not surprising given Irio’s wood-roasting processes, it has a woody and smooth flavor of mild spices but a body that runs a little thinner than expected. At €1.50, it’s a little pricey — but half the cost of table service (which is still worth it, given the hangout).

And good enough for Gambero Rosso’s 2014 Bar d’Italia to rate it 2 tazzine and 2 chicchi.

Read the review of La Brezza Net Art Café in Positano, Italy.

La Brezza Net Art Café's two-group Esprèsso by SAB machine The La Brezza Net Art Café espresso

Positano is known as the vertical town The La Brezza Net Art Café cappuccino

Trip Report: Bar Al San Domingo (Ravello, Italy)

Posted by on 25 Nov 2013 | Filed under: Café Society, Foreign Brew

This bar/café on the main Piazza Vescovado is something of a local Ravello institution. Founded as a family business in 1929, it is now operated in the hands of three Schiavo brothers who are part of the successive generation.

Gianni Agnelli, L, and first lady Jackie Kennedy, R, enjoying themselves at Al San Domingo in RavelloWith its name inspired by a Neapolitan coffee roaster of the time, the writer Gore Vidal is said to have made a habit of hanging out near its glass entrance — chatting it up with a visiting Sting or Bruce Springsteen over a glass of Chivas Regal. There are also classic photos about of former first lady Jackie Kennedy hanging out at this café with “Godfather of Style” and head of FIAT, Gianni Agnelli, from August 1962. While these may be events from only this past century, they still give you a sense of time and place.

By contrast, in America we seem so enamored with new, shiny things that we encourage a disposable culture that extends to our own history. At five years, you’re overlooked; at ten, you’re forgotten; at twenty, you’re a candidate for a wrecking ball. Trendy pop-up coffee shops and restaurants seem like a natural outcome of our disposable culture. (We recently read an historical revisionist comment from Ritual’s Eileen Hassi suggesting that only Ritual and Blue Bottle were doing the things they were doing in SF when they started up eight years ago — completely dismissing the forgotten likes of Café Organica, who was already making better coffee at the time and doing more “third wave” things those two hadn’t even dreamed of yet.)

Ravello's Piazza Vescovado at dusk, with Al San Domingo's outdoor seating on the left Bar Al San Domingo in the rain from the seats at Ravello's Caffè Duomo

Getting back to Mrs. Kennedy’s Summer of ’62 stay in Ravello, it’s odd today to think of the wife of a standing U.S. president spending three weeks cavorting about with one of the world’s most notorious playboys in Gianni Agnelli — all the while JFK (himself an international playboy wannabe by comparison) stayed back in Washington, DC. But these are facts that were undoubtedly kept from American public eyes at the time.

Mr. Agnelli reportedly made a number of visits to this café over the years, which reportedly stirred up friendly barbs with its owners. Because you see, the Schiavo family are granata — i.e., devout fans of the Torino football club, Torino FC. There are still supporter signs inside the café to this day. Among various other titles, Mr. Angelli was also something of the patron saint of their cross-town rivals and sworn enemies, Juventus FC.

La Cimbali M39 inside Al San Domingo - with Torino FC signage The Bar Al San Domingo espresso

The café itself seems to have evolved and grown in distinct stages. It re-opened in July of 2013 after a three-year renovation hiatus, covered in scaffolding. In front there are awnings and seats in the main piazza. Inside there are several tables and a service area, and off to one side it expands into a café space next door (Humphrey’s Room) that looks like a glass greenhouse.

Besides serving Chivas Regal, a lot of good gelato, and lunch items, their coffee service uses a three-group La Cimbali M39 and coffee from Cafè Sombrero in nearby Vietri sul Mare. It comes with a mottled medium brown crema and tastes of a milder blend of spices. Served in larger, patterned Thomas cups.

Maybe not legendary espresso, but it’s still good.

Read the review of Bar Al San Domingo in Ravello, Italy.

Trip Report: Figli di Papà (Ravello, Italy)

Posted by on 17 Nov 2013 | Filed under: Local Brew, Restaurant Coffee

This bar/café and restaurant is located within the ruins of a Ravello palace, the Palazzo della Marra, built in the 12th century. Opening in the late 1990s, the brothers Giuseppe and Gerardo Foti dedicated it to their father (and hence its name).

In 2002, we first encountered it as the Palazzo della Marra restaurant: the cuisine aimed high, and it was arguably one of the best, most innovative restaurants in Ravello. The brothers have since reformulated it, however, and now the original name belongs only to the next-door bed & breakfast. In its place, the Figli di Papà name has come with a decidedly more casual restaurant that is still one of the better options in town. (Bay Area restaurants are no strangers to the concept of downscaling their ambitions for populist, recession-friendly burger and pizza joints.)

Via della Marra entrance to Figli di Papà, at the foundations of a 12th century palace If you reach the stairs, you've gone too far. At least for the bar.

Most importantly, the espresso here is also some of the best in town.

There are a couple of outdoor seats out front along Via della Marra with an upstairs gelateria/bar area. Downstairs there a number of restaurant tables and also outdoor patio seating along Rampa Gambardella. The upstairs bar is so casual, you might not even realize you’re in it — mistaking it instead for a transition to a stairway. But look and you’ll likely find a couple of locals standing at the tiny bar, watching the day’s news on TV. Let them know you’re not just passing through to the stairs, and you’ll get service.

Behind the bar, there’s a two-group chrome Fiorenzato lever espresso machine at the ready. The barista is conscientious and methodical with the machine’s levers, and he pulls a shot of Caffè Toraldo with a darker brown crema and the occasional lighter, medium brown heat spot.

It has the flavor of cloves and spices and the most exquisitely textured crema we’ve had in the area. Served in Caffè Toraldo-logo MPAN cups. And to show their soccer club alliance, “Forza Napoli” is even printed on the receipts.

Read the review of Figli di Papà in Ravello, Italy.

Figli di Papà's Fiorenzato getting worked over by a deliberate barista The Figli di Papà espresso

Trip Report: Andrea Pansa (Amalfi, Italy)

Posted by on 15 Nov 2013 | Filed under: Café Society, Foreign Brew

The town of Amalfi gives the Coast its name. Dating back to the 9th century, it is one of the four key Maritime Republics of Italy, and it is still represented on the flag of the Italian Navy to this day. Unlike the sleepier Ravello up the nearby cliffs, Amalfi is heavily overrun with tourists during the high season.

The town of Amalfi, which gives the Amalfi Coast its name (credit to Wikipedia)

Amalfi's Duomo Entrance to Andrea Pansa on Piazza Duomo

Andrea Pansa first opened as a café in 1830. It is thus is quite legendary on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. It’s known primarily for its chocolate (there are many resellers who use the Pansa name in town on their storefronts) and its confections. Located right on the most popular public square in town, it attracts a lot of foot-traffic plus tourists/locals who lounge on the café tables beneath the sun umbrellas out front. They sell a lot of tourist-friendly limoncello as well.

The reputation here isn’t unfounded. The 2014 Gambero Rosso Bar d’Italia awarded it 3 tazzine and 2 chicchi — making it one of their most exceptional coffee bars in the Campania region. Yet despite the obvious signs of entitlement, the staff here are exceptionally friendly and engaging.

Formal interior of Andrea Pansa Andrea Pansa merchandising

Pastries and confections inside Andrea Pansa Some of the more formal seating inside Andrea Pansa

Among the towns and cities of Campania, Amalfi is one of the few outposts we’ve found for Portioli coffee from up north — and Pansa makes the most of it. They use a three-group GIME Sinfonia (from Portioli’s espresso machine arm) to pull shots with a medium brown, even crema. The shot is balanced — and brighter and not as dark or pungent as most in the region. Perhaps owing to its northern Italian blends. The flavor is weighted more towards spices and light pepper. Cheap at a mere €0.80.

Read the review of Andrea Pansa in Amalfi, Italy.

The three-group GIME Sinfonia at Andrea Pansa The Andrea Pansa espresso

Trip Report: Caffè Duomo (Ravello, Italy)

Posted by on 07 Nov 2013 | Filed under: Foreign Brew

For many years, this tiny doorway was once home to the Ravello post office in the heart of town. We know, because we tried to ship three bottles of a great Taurasi back to the U.S. from there. To this day, some 11 years later, it still hasn’t made it, and we don’t suspect it was lost in the mail. Unless if by “lost” you mean consumed in an afternoon of drunken debauchery by the local postman.

But in the Spring of 2011, owners Antonio Di Martino, the local restauranteur Rispoli family, and sommelier Angela Donatatonio opened this space up as the new Caffè Duomo. It’s now a somewhat cramped café (as it was a post office): two small tables inside seat three. But it’s the outside space in the main square under parasols that matters.

Brooding skies over Caffè Duomo's outdoor seating in Piazza Vescovado, Ravello, Italy A former post office, this is the entrance to Caffè Duomo with the cordial Antonio sitting just to the left of the steps

It is popular with the locals and tourists alike: well-heeled locals stop here for a quick caffè, while enough tourists stop by for to-go cup lattes to justify a paper sign in English on bathroom use etiquette when the wedding season is high. Antonio is always about, and he’s a great, friendly guy to get to know: regular customers get the warmest of greetings.

Using a three-group manual lever La San Marco behind the small bar, they pull shots of Qualeat (from the Perrella brothers near Avellino) that are properly short, concentrated, and modestly fill a Duomo-logo regulation IPA tazzina.

The crema is an even darker brown with some texture. Flavorwise, the shot is balanced, heavy on pungency, but yet not the typically heavy dark you get in much of Campania. Caffè Duomo is arguably the new gold standard in town for caffè and fresh cornetti. (Sorry, Caffè Calce.) An even €1.

Read the review of Caffè Duomo in Ravello, Italy.

The tiny space inside Caffè Duomo with their La San Marco lever machine in the corner The Caffè Duomo espresso in a logo cup: a fine one indeed

Trip Report: Caffè Calce (Ravello, Italy)

Posted by on 30 Oct 2013 | Filed under: Foreign Brew, Machine

Before our current series of trip reports again returns to Napoli, we’re taking a detour through the nearby Amalfi Coast. For better or worse, most tourists arrive in Napoli only on their way someplace else. So rather than argue with tradition, we set up base for a week in an apartment in Ravello, Italy — arguably one of our favorite towns in the world, perched high on a mountain plateau above the coast.

Coastal residents of the region established Ravello in the 5th century — largely seeking shelter from the various barbarian invasions that followed the fall of the Roman empire. The most similar challenge San Francisco faces today is, perhaps, weekend brunch. Over the following centuries, the medieval town of Ravello has been something of a magnet for artists, writers, and musicians: from Richard Wagner to Gore Vidal to M. C. Escher to Edvard Grieg.

View of the Amalfi Coast from our Ravello apartment Foggy road (Via San Giovanni del Toro) atop old Ravello

Postcard view from Ravello overlooking Chiesa dell'Annunziata Yet another postcard view from Ravello's Villa Cimbrone

There are even telltale signs of “St. Francis of Assisi slept here” in the Gothic Chiesa di San Francesco, so named in honor of his passing through Ravello to Amalfi in 1222 to venerate relics of St. Andrew the Apostle. If you think that was a bit of a stretch, remember that St. Francis came nowhere near San Francisco and yet they named an entire city after him. Though some say even he couldn’t get around the two-plus-hour wait for a table in town for a weekend brunch. (What gives, San Francisco? It’s just eggs.)

Being a small town of a mere 2,500 residents, Ravello previously had a rather lightweight café culture. We first visited Caffè Calce in 2002, and then they held a commanding presence as an arguable gold standard in town to get an espresso and a cornetto. Back then, we often ran into Woody Harrelson and his family there, as they was staying at a five-star hotel down the road from our last apartment.

Fast forward to 2013: not only is Woody gone, but so is Caffè Calce’s once commanding presence over the town. Which isn’t to say they haven’t been successful: they’ve expanded with a bed & breakfast at the nearby Giardini Caffè Calce and even opened a sister location as Caffè Calce 2 at Via Boccaccio, 11. Yet perhaps influenced by their growth, local competition has invaded like barbarians and flourished. Even so, Caffè Calce is still a worthy stop — earning 1(/3) chiccho and 1(/3) tazzina as the only Ravello café listed in the 2014 Gambero Rosso Bar d’Italia.

The Ravello Duomo on Piazza Vescovado Parasols of Caffè Calce (right) and Caffè Duomo (left) on Piazza Vescovado

This café is located conveniently in the corner of Ravello’s Piazza Vescovado (aka Piazza Duomo). Today Piazza Vescovado now hosts no fewer than four different competing cafés, each sectioned off in the piazza with ample seating under high-tech Italian awning devices. Thus today the piazza more closely resembles Capri’s Piazza Umberto I.

Inside, Caffè Calce is a sizable space with ample display counters devoted to the various pastries that come out throughout the day. Towards the back are a couple of levels of café table seating, which are great for catching late Sunday night soccer matches and sipping a decent grappa for a mere €6.

Caffè Calce off Via Roma, advertising their English proficiency to the tourists Seating inside Caffè Calce

Behind the bar is a three-group La Cimbali M39 Classic. La Cimbali being the other ubiquitous espresso machine manufacturer in Napoli and the Amalfi Coast besides La San Marco. (What?! No manual lever machine espresso? What a ripoff!)

Using it and their Caffè Toraldo coffee, they pull shots with a modestly decent-looking crema that occasionally comes with a heat spot and some larger bubbles. They serve the shot short, despite their wider-mouthed Güral Porselen cups from Turkey. It has a typical Caffè Toraldo pungent flavor of potent herbs and some spice. A round €1 and certainly decent, but today Ravello offers better.

Read the review of Caffè Calce in Ravello, Italy.

Caffè Calce's La Cimbali M39 Classic The Caffè Calce espresso

Trip Report: Gran Caffè Neapolis (Napoli, Italy)

Posted by on 26 Oct 2013 | Filed under: Add Milk, Barista, Café Society, Foreign Brew

Opening in November 2010, this café feels like it has been here for far longer. (Contrast with nearby Scaturchio, dal 1905.) The interior space is a modern, stark white with spot lighting and lounge-like space surrounded by bottles of Champagne on the walls. Outside there’s ample seating under large parasols in the enjoyable Piazza San Domenico Maggiore.

Entrance to Gran Caffè Neapolis Inside Gran Caffè Neapolis

The name “Neapolis”, the original name for Napoli, means “New City” in Greek. Napoli’s civilization has Greek roots dating back to at least the 4th century B.C. Buried in the more modern building foundations just a couple blocks away beneath Piazza San Gaetano lies the (now explorable) 6,000-capacity Greek/Roman theater used by Emperor Nero to perform his operas — including a debut in 64 A.D. where Nero famously sang through an earthquake and thought it a good omen.

So perhaps on the historical scale of the neighborhood, this café is a recent hiccup. But the espresso here is good enough to have been upped from a one to a two chicchi rating between the 2013 & 2014 editions of Gambero Rosso’s Bar d’Italia. Even if the space comes adorned with some semi-cheesy local (Italian) tourist decorations, such as various Pulcinella masks and ornamental cornicelli.

Cheesy tourist decorations at the base of the Gran Caffè Neapolis bar Four-group La San Marco inside Gran Caffè Neapolis

The Maestro dell'Espresso certification on display at Gran Caffè NeapolisBehind their four-group manual lever La San Marco machine, they sport four clear cylinders of roasted coffee blend options — including Arabica, Excelsa, Liberica, and Robusta. There’s a Maestro dell’Espresso certificate on display, certified by Illycaffè, for the master barista of the house. However, for the Saturday morning shift of our visit we had two young, seemingly novice (and uneasy) women operating as bariste on duty.

Using their Arabia blend, they pulled shots with a richly textured crema of a darker brown and even slightly grayish color — filled relatively high in IPA cups of modern design. Its taste is pure pungency with no ashiness, bitterness, or even a bright end for that matter.

The milk-frothing was a bit iffy, however: bubbly and too hot, but this was likely the B team. Though note that Neapolitans don’t go for overly frilly cappuccinos and latte art beyond a dusting of cocoa. A very reasonable €0.80.

Read the review of Gran Caffè Neapolis in Napoli, Italy.

The Gran Caffè Neapolis espresso The Gran Caffè Neapolis cappuccino

Trip Report: Giovanni Scaturchio (Napoli, Italy)

Posted by on 24 Oct 2013 | Filed under: Foreign Brew, Roasting

This bakery in the heart of Napoli has been a family operation since its founding by its namesake in 1905. They are mostly known for their baked goods: a pasticceria filled with sweets, pastries, and cakes. One of their more comical creations is a Vesuvio cake on display that comes in the shape of the famed volcano that looms on the horizon. Though who wouldn’t want a cake to celebrate your impending fiery death in a vaporizing cloud of molten ash?

Entrance to Giovanni Scaturchio Seating outside in Piazza San Domenico Maggiore

Scaturchio cakes - including the Vesuvio (center) Tight quarters inside Giovanni Scaturchio

Scaturchio also makes their own gelato and roasts their own supply of coffee offsite in small, personal batches. They also sell their coffee on request. Of course as in much of Napoli, most families only have stovetop Moka pots — so the coffee is sold pre-ground and in tins.

Scaturchio also resells their roasted coffeeThis is a traditionally tight space with no seating inside. If you want a caffè at the bar during a popular hour, be prepared to muscle in or wait patiently a bit. However, if the weather is decent, there’s ample outdoor seating under parasols across the entrance to the shop in one of Napoli’s great piazzas. The people-watching there alone is worth the price of admission.

Using a three-group manual lever La San Marco machine behind the bar, they pull shots with an even, almost a dark grey, ochre-looking crema — unlike any crema we have even seen prior. (The lighting in the attached images don’t do it justice.) But be not afraid: it’s a solid, good espresso.

There’s a lot of life to the cup: there’s some smoke, but it’s not too smoky. Flavorwise, it is primarily a mixture of potent spice and some herbal notes in good balance. Served with water on the side for €0.90. They scored a 1(/3) tazzina and 1(/3) chiccho in the 2014 Gambero Rosso Bar d’Italia.

Read the review of Giovanni Scaturchio in Napoli, Italy.

Barista working Scaturchio's lever La San Marco The Scaturchio espresso - and it's bizarrely greyish matte crema

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