Rating: Standard, yet distinctly different from Traditional Roman coffee
The Sicilian Cafe – Pastry shop Pasticceria Nino is placed in a very strategic locale at the foot of the Ciampino train station (South of Rome). Since a lot of travel to and from Rome happens from the Ciampino Airport, where Ryan Air and other low-cost airlines operate from, the Ciampino train station sees a lot traffic from international travelers. Yet it’s not so much tourists that I find here, but locals, and lots of them.
And here’s why:
But we’re here for coffee, so let’s leave sweets to somebody else!
Here’s what you get when you order a ‘caffè’:
Presentation: Sparkling water is automatically served with the espresso… actually with each espresso the glass is pulled up right next to it. A good sign. Is the sparkling water something of Sicilian coffee culture that we’re given privy to? The cup comes in a very small fluted cup. This is going to be a brief espresso! I like this already.
Temperature of Cup: The cup was not at the proper temperature, but actually a bit cold. This is because they have a lot of cups stacked on the machine and there’s lots of turnover. So lots of washing of cups and restacking them on the machine. So while it reflects good business, the cup is not at optimal temperature to drink an espresso.
Quantity: Very-very short espresso. I would clearly consider this a ristretto, simply because the cup already has no volume to start with. Next time I’ll order a ristretto to see what is conjured up.
Temperature: A bit too warm, the contrast with the cold cup surprised me. The coffee actually burnt my tongue a bit.
Volume/Consistency: Expecting a bit thicker consistency given the shortness of the shot. So actually not as strong a punch as the outside package was promising.
Crema: The crema was dark and actually a bit too bubbly, telling me again that the temperature was a bit too high for this blend of beans.
Odor: Strong fragrant dark roast coffee. Given the shortness of the espresso, nice odor. Actually emanates from the cup at quite a distance.
Taste: Strong, bitter, and after letting it sit in the palate for a bit, albeit on my second sip, I could taste a bit of the beans and move past the dark roast overtones.
Overall: As the flower design in the cup shows, I had to air this shot a bit to cool it and to smell its fragrance. It was a good shot, could have been a lot more sirupy and flavorful, but the starting materia (beans) just don’t have it packed in them. Nonetheless, it’s definitely worth visiting, simply because it’s a distinctly different type of espresso from what you get in Rome.
The setup is very good. They have a Faema Ambassador four-group semi-automatic machine that lets them control the espresso. The grinder appears to be a Faema also, and the basket was full of grinds. With the turnover they have, it probably gets filled at least every hour. They brew Golden Brasil Coffee, a roaster who does traditional Roman grade dark roast based in Ardea (South East of Rome near the coast).
However, if you’re adventurous, and the brevity of the espresso was not sufficient for you, I can only recommend you order a Caffè con Crema di Caffè.
Depending on which barista is there, you’ll get a variation of the above. I specifically ask them to skimp on the Crema, because if not they place a gargantuan spoon full of the Crema on the coffe and, to my taste, it becomes simply sugar with some coffee flavor.
When I asked how they made the Crema, the barista looked at me as if I was crazy and said that it’s a family recipe that is not given out under any circumstances! That’s that. But from what I can see and taste it’s a variant of the milk based Crema di Caffè with very little coffee in it. Other places, like Voglia di Caffè, or the Bud Cafe 8,served dairy-free, or only coffee-based Crema. And this is what I prefer.
Either way, you should definitely order one at Nino’s… its really worth trying and costs the same as a regular espresso.
The locale is big, but has no space to sit and lounge, nearly all of it is dedicated to counter space to showcase the sweets. It’s a newish looking establishment, updated and attractive. After the rush of folks left I was able to capture these photos:
For those who exit the train station and wait for the bus to the Ciampino airpot, there’s a coffee treasure right in front of your eyes. It’s an amazing pastry and bakery shop that is chock-full of spectacular creations. You should visit it not only for the espresso or caffè crema, but also just for the amazing amount of colors screaming out for your attention!
Here’s an interesting update to this post. I recently visited the Nino cafe again, and saw this on their wall:
Essentially, now you can choose how much caffeine you want in your coffee. Crazy, but true! Libero Caffè is a new Roman-Based roaster that sports 40% and 70% caffenaited coffee. But you have to ask for it at the counter particularly, as I got their normal coffee roast as in the post. Very cool concept, and next time I go I will give it a try!
Bar Pasticceria Gelateria Siciliana
Via IV Novembre, 89-93
00043 Ciampino (Roma)
Tel. 06 791 1708