Friday, January 6, 2012


A contemporary, industrial coffee space in Charleston, West Virginia. The fragmented, steel bar, crafted by a Pittsburgh designer, is the centerpiece to an otherwise sparse interior — aside from televisions looping mesmerizing footage of movies and Internet clips. A logo (of goat heads) doesn’t include the name.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The alimentari is an Italian specialty store, serving homemade goods, cured meats, wines, and coffee. In Bar Mariano, a Florence mainstay, the collection of vintage wines is especially impressive. The space has cavernous medieval bones, but the entrance is adorned with a mid-century Italian font with Fellini-like charm.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


One of the earliest European cafes, Caffe Florian, opened in Venice in 1774. Hundreds of years later, in 2006, a sister cafe opened in Florence; less grandiose in nature, the space is more modern, on beautiful Via del Parione.

But the most beautiful part of the cafe pays homage to Italy’s coffee roots, featuring a traditional drip coffee: an old copper apparatus similar to a pour over.

The gorgeous copper filter sits atop the Caffe Florian embellished cup; it is served with a pitcher of boiled water, and finely ground coffee already measured out into the filter.  One simply pours the water over the grounds to taste (remember, it’s only meant to produce a tiny cup). The drip is slow, but it creates a small, strong espresso.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Caffe Della Pace (literally, “cafe of peace”) is a gorgeous cafe that evokes another era, both glamorous and romantic, and serves one of the best cornetti and cappuccinos in Rome. The gilded interior is crowded with antique mirrors, statues, and various trinkets; the facade is covered in ivy, and the surrounding sidewalk tables are the perfect place to people watch. During the holiday season, it is decorated with glass ornaments dangling from the ceiling, and a large display of garland and cotton pods.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Walking the streets of Lisbon, through steep and winding urban hills and valleys, one may be in need of a coffee break. Bright hexagonal cafes topped with peaked roofs are dotted throughout the city as a haven, the perfect place to stop called the quiosque. The concept is simple and convenient: the structures function as tiny freestanding espresso bars, most notably located in parks, yet also along the riverfront and on various street corners. One can grab an espresso and pastel de Belem any time of day, since they are open late into the evening.











Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Rome is an ancient city full of history and tradition. It is also a city with an economy built on tourism, so it often adjusts to modern life in a rapid way. Much to my chagrin, this includes new coffee spaces with WiFi and organic juices. I’m partial to the old establishments. But Barnum Cafe is a perfect union of Italian tradition and youthful modernity.

I took a sunny stroll down one of my favorite streets near Campo de Fiori.  My favorite area of the city, this square fills up each morning with a maze of tents, selling the sweetest fruits, vegetables, exotic spices, cheeses, pastas, and flowers. Adjoining the square, Via del Pellegrino is a chic and quaint winding street of restaurants, bars and shopfronts for local designers. It’s truly a special street to peruse.

Barnum Café, located on Via del Pellegrino, is a different kind of bar for Rome. Daniele, the owner — a photographer himself — has created a uniquely designed space for art, music, drinking, eating (healthy and often vegetarian, none-the-less). Café by day, bar by night. A kid named Maurick creates beautiful latte art. His portfolio includes cats, dogs, people, pigs, flowers — and all thanks to a YouTube education.

Barnum was named after the circus – Barnum and Bailey – and also as a play on words (Bar…Num…), and the aesthetic follows suit, with (cardboard) girls doing acrobatics from the ceiling.  As much an art space as a café, local artists can showcase their works upon the exposed brick walls.


Thursday, June 9, 2011


Caffe Gambrinus is a Neapolitan cafe dating back to 1860. It retains a sense of grandeur, with the waiters wearing floor-skimming aprons and moving about the cafe in ever-sweeping motions. The space is very gilded and stuccoed, signifying the Belle Epoque era in which it was designed. The outside terrace overlooks the stunning Piazza Plebiscito. The glass shelves full of sweets are abundant.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


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 from my short-term apartment in Vatican City. A place with little frill or pretense, where the same neighborhood veterans sat all day long, playing cards, drinking coffee and aperitifs, arguing and laughing. No tourists, no English, not even an Italian under 40. A cafe of decades past and vintage Rome.

Located on Via dei Banchi Vecchi, on the corner of Via del Pavone, it stood for 70 years. The baristas worked behind the bar since they were teenagers. I have heard from many in Italy that, though the coffee culture will always be grand, the true craft is waning with new generations. At this particular bar, tradition prevailed, and a semblance of history was felt. It was also, single-handedly, the best cappuccino I’ve ever had.

Sadly, the bar recently closed, only to reopen with a new, shiny interior and new owners. I truly loved this space, and I’m glad I documented it before it was gone.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


This cozy, Italian spot is a New York power lunch kind of place, with gilded accents and dark wood; but the mahogany bar with Italian sweets and cappuccinos topped with intricate designs are what make it a truly special place to rest in midtown.

Monday, February 28, 2011


At once, completely UES New York, and also entirely authentically Italian. The Sant Ambroeus font is reminiscent of  stylized storefronts in Rome. The inside is gilded and sweet, glowing with candlelight.