I think my heart broke a little bit when I first saw that Pasticceria Barberini was closed for remodeling.
This was several years ago and I am happy to report that even though the pastry shop and coffee bar in Testaccio looks shiny and new, the commitment to quality remains the same as when it first opened back in 1925.
At the end of the day, that is exactly why I love it.
I do, however, miss the awkward little round coffee counter that used to be found right down there – at the end of the shop.
The Testaccio pastry shop has smartly dressed staff in burgundy caps and aprons who have to work at warp speed to keep up with the weekday morning rush of Romans in search of colazione.
It is one of my favorite places for breakfast in Rome because Pasticceria Barberini makes all of their cornetti with butter and a natural starter. (They are big believers in letting the dough rise and using local yeasts).
Honestly, cornetti are not a type of breakfast food that I get overly excited about, but they are excellently done here.
Maybe that is because Pasticceria Barberini is best known for its pastries. As you walk in, the coffee area is to the left but the real action is happening to the right, where carefully crafted sweets glitter like tiny jewels.
They have tiramisu in an edible chocolate cup, tony green casatine, rich sacher torte, and pastries dreamed up by the team of bakers working away in the kitchen that you can easily see into through the glass wall behind the counter.
These tiny treats are known as “mignon” in case you want to order some (and you will). Larger cakes can be ordered in advance or picked from the cases in the corner of the shop.
The coffee, while not specialty coffee, is very good. Pasticceria Barberini uses a custom roast for their beans and makes a great cappuccino.
If you go in the morning, you can have your coffee at the counter or carry it to the small but comfortable tables that line the shop. Pasticceria Barberini briefly tried charge table service (a fee that most coffee places add if you want to be served instead of standing) but I think they gave up when all the regulars ignored the signs.
To keep this free, be courteous and bus the table when you are done- bringing your empty cup of coffee back to the counter. (And note that if you are going after breakfast time, paying for table service might be mandatory – at aperitivo hour, for example).
(Sad update 18 November: I don’t know if I tempted fate, but the menus are back at the tables here are no longer free. At least for the time being).
But really we keep coming back because baby G loves their hats and their cornetto semplice. And the baristas seem to like him just fine in return, which always makes him smile even more.
A final note:
There are two main schools of Testaccini: those who go to Pasticceria Barberini and those who swear by Linari.
While I preach fidelity in all things Italian (like going to the same vendor in the market), I am not loyal when it comes to beloved Testaccio coffee bars. You will just as soon find me at Tram Depot, as at Linari or Pasticceria Barberini. I like them all for different things and I drink enough coffee that it’s not difficult to be a regular at all three.
Via Marmorata, 41
Rome, Italy (Testaccio)
Phone: +39 06 5725 0431
Open: Every day from 6 am to 9 pm.