VIA DEI BANCHI VECCHI 14, NEAR CAMPO DEI FIORI
Before I left for Roma, I got many a suggestion about the “best” coffee in Rome. I went to all, and had good coffee, of course. But in my heart I knew I must visit a certain place. A place with no name, only “BAR” adorning its’ facade, like many other cafes in Roma. This is a place that fate led me to two years ago on my daily walk to the market of Campo dei Fiori. A place of no frills nor pretense, where the same regulars sit all day long — a meeting place. No tourists, no English, not even an Italian under 40. A cafe of decades past, vintage Rome.
Located on Via dei Banchi Vecchi, on the corner of Via del Pavone, it has stood here for 70 years. The baristas have worked behind the bar nearly all their life, perfecting the craft. I have heard from many in Italy that, though the coffee culture will always be grand, the craft may be waning with the young generation. Here, this is not so. It is single-handedly the best cappuccino I’ve ever had. In my broken Italian I tried to convey my love, but fell short. All I could say was Perfetto, Il miglior cappuccino! And it was. No cafe in New York or DC or even Seattle can compare. No slow brews. No 20 minute cappuccinos. These are the purveyors of the craft, their hands instinctively know what to do.
Usually, the same sweet man is there. With little effort, he creates a cappuccino in due minuti or less, and always asks if i want uno po ‘di cioccolato. Sprinkled on top of the espresso, it swirls into the milk when poured, creating a creamy mixture with only a hint of chocolate.
There are famous places in Roma that one must go for coffee – Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe, Tazza D’Oro, and Antico Caffe Greco are some of those. All wonderful, all to be written about on this blog soon. But this place? If there’s one cappuccino to have in Roma, make it this one. Simply follow Bancchi Vecchi, stand at the bar, listen to the melodic language, and let time be still for a moment. This is true Italian coffee — simple, perfect, warm, and served with a sweet prego.