Italy may have invented the cappuccino but the perfect morning drink remains elusive, even here. That is because the perfect cappuccino is a combination of the quality of: the coffee, the milk, the coffee machine + the skill of the barista. So let me say that it is something spectacular to discover that the perfect cappuccino can indeed be found in Rome at Retro Caffe.
Retro Caffe is a specialty coffee and wine bar that comes from Retrobottega – my favorite modern eatery in the center.
Retrobottega has such fabulous food that it should come as no surprise that their cafe is thoughtful and delicious. It has the same kind of high-counter seating as their sophisticated restaurant. However, thanks to COVID-19, they have also been allotted some space for outdoor seating right next to the charming Sempre Natale Christmas shop, which is just around the corner.
I have gone far out of my way to drink this coffee. Retro Caffe is about a 5-minute walk from the Pantheon. I have only been for breakfast, but they also serve more savory options later in the day, around the clock.
In terms of coffee, you can always stop in and ask what is brewing. Espresso-based drinks are available, but you can also opt for pour-over or Aeropress. For me, however, it is all about the cappuccino. When things are more amenable to lingering, I plan to stop in for a V60 and/or a glass of natural wine.
The coffee is far from typical, and so is the breakfast menu. There is not a cornetto in sight. Instead, you can try a really exceptional croissant. Flakey and buttery, this is a very well-executed version of the French classic.
I have tried the Keifer and granola. It was a bit sour for my taste but the homemade granola added a bright crunch. I would probably pick the pane rustico over the Keifer. This green sandwich is outstanding, topped with seasonal veggies and aged cheese.
Next on my must-eat list is the banana bread. I had true breakfast envy when someone else ordered it and it came with mascarpone on the side.
All of the baked goods, from bread to delicate pastries, are made onsite. The quality stands out, as well as the uniqueness of their morning offerings. Breakfast tends to be short and sweet in Italy, but Retro Vino e Caffe offers much more at very reasonable prices.
But it is the coffee that keeps calling me back.
I may not have been able to travel much this year, but I have had some great coffee. From Tram Depot, Marigold, Caffè Cognetti (in Bari), and Caffè Agust (made at home). But Retro Caffe’s unique selection of roasts, barista at the helm of the gleaming Marzocco, and presentation all make for the perfect cappuccino.
Retro Vino e Caffe
Via d’Ascanio, 26A
Open 8 am – 6 pm.