I don’t like to take sugar in my coffee. When the coffee is good, I want to taste the flavors, the acidity, and enjoy the right level of bitterness. However I make an exception for a special combination of coffee sweetness at Panella, where you can find cafe served with zabaione.
Zabaione, or zabaglione, is a kind of whipped egg custard that owes its creaminess and its color to egg yolks. The yolks are whipped with sugar and a sweet, fortified wine like Marsala or vin santo. When it’s served as a beverage, the zabaione will be less whipped – but this is something that you would usually only have at home, made by nonna. In most cases, you find zabaione made as a kind of cream to fill pastries or serve topped with fresh fruit.
However, at Panella, the zabaione is available to mix with your coffee. This has long been a recommendation from Annie at Scooteroma who leads amazing Vespa tours. I recently found myself in the neighborhood after the long lockdown and couldn’t resist the indulgent morning start.
Panella has outdoor seating with table service so I waited for the elegantly dressed waiter to take my order: cappuccino con zabaione. And a cornetto, of course. This coffee bar is also a bakery.
If egg custard and coffee sounds like a weird combination, I’ll just point you towards tiramisu. The popular Italian dessert that also uses espresso and egg yolks together. (But since the yolks aren’t typically cooked, you may want to skip this if you are traveling to Italy while pregnant).
For me, the sweet and creamy combo totally works. It’s not a everyday beverage but it is a great treat when you are craving a sweet change.
In some old school coffee bars in Rome, you may find bowls of whipped cream (panna) to add to your espresso but zabaione is much rarer.
Panella is a well known bakery and has a popular aperitivo, so it’s worth a stop if you find yourself in Esquilino at any time of day.
Via Merulana, 54
Open: Every day from 7 am until midnight, except Sunday when it closes at 9 pm.