Caffeine addicts, a title allocated to maybe all NYC citizens. We live, breathe, and dream of coffee, whether iced, sugar laden, or steaming hot. Before breakfast or even after dinner, we are eager for the bitter beverage. It can ironically soothes nerves. It can drag even our zombie selves out of bed.
Isn’t it crazy how one drink makes all the difference? There is on the other hand the significant influence it does have in our global food system, but, for the sake of theme, I will leave that discussion for another time.
I am here to ardently review the coffee shops of NYC. And, I come with an honest bias.
I love espresso. With an ongoing infatuation with Italian food cultures, my love of the 2 ounce beverage is unbreakable. So, I will assess espresso to the best of my abilities. And, you should follow along too. Note: if you do not feel like reading my entire review, skim down for highlights.
Just a note: I do not really do black coffee; I, as in my stomach, cannot handle large volumes of caffeine. But, I will not leave it out of the equation because drip coffee tends to give more caffeine per dollar. Generally speaking, it will be a comprehensive coffee review, with a goal of providing knowledge of where to find the best espresso.
So, let’s do this!
The first review will be dedicated to a sweet somewhat new coffee bar a few steps away from my apartment.
Now, this is a Roman coffee bar. Its design is simple, with underlying themes of rationalist architecture leftover from Italy’s fascist past. Old world granite countertops leave a playful tone to the rest of the space, with their sleek almost home-like quality. The baristas are honest and accommodating, sporting adorable cyclist hats often worn by baristas at an Italian Autogrill. Caffe Marchio serves breakfast, hot and cold lunch options, and also drinks. Its versatility in menu and design makes it a noteworthy addition to the NYC coffee scene.
Lets discuss coffee. It is impressive that Caffe Marchio brews both single and double shots. This stands out, especially given that many NYC coffee shops have a double shot default. A special Joe Coffee “Roman” blend is served, which was specifically crafted for USHG’s Roman style restaurants. It is wonderful and does a great job at mimicking the bold chocolate-ly flavors of Roman based roasting companies like Caffe Circi or Caffe Trombetta. I will say the cappuccino size and ratio is nearly perfect; a blissful 6 ounce dream. It comforts me to order a cappuccino and not have to ask how large it is. A cappuccino is a standard 6 ounces, equal parts to all its components. I really hate the trust issues I have with most NYC coffee establishments. Thank you, Caffe Marchio, for understanding.
Now, here is where we take a turn. The place does provide the standard food types that most Italian coffee bars provide during the day. You have panini at lunch, maybe a couple of cold food options, and some simple alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. Caffe Marchio attempts to implement this, but it cannot shake off its NYC roots.
First up, the sweet stuff.
Let’s start with the apricot cornetti. These are not cornetti at all. They are puny croissants with an overly sweet glaze. If you attempt to be at all Roman, or even Italian style for that matter, you need proper cornetti. A cornetto (singular) must be stained yellow and gently sweet from its citrus essence. It is not a croissant; it is sweeter and has egg. Typically, you have 3 flavor options: crema (cream,) marmalata (usually apricot marmalade,) and cioccolato. This is so crucial, especially to those who grew up in Italy. Whether called a brioche or cornetto, either is a cornerstone of any morning.
The other sweet options do satisfy cravings. I will honorably mention the ciambellone, which is well done Jessica Weiss. It has the humble Grandma quality that all ciambellone should have, with a buttery cake base and delicately sweet lemon glaze. It gently warmed my heart.
To finish up the food, the lunch options are to note. This is where the Roman style does take stage. The panini are a nice combination of Roman influences, like the pollo alla cacciatora romana sandwich or the tramezzini filled with egg salad. I think these are pleasant and a nice quick bite. Not wholly Roman, but the nice pieces of pizza bianca do take you on a trip away from your typical New York habits of kale salad.
As much as I adore the spot, it irks my purist self that USHG calls it a Roman coffee bar. It does boast fantastic coffee, delicious food options, and an intriguing architectural design. But, it is not really Roman. The music for instance can get me. Please, just do not EVER play over done The Godfather type music. That is just too stereotypical too handle.
Caffe Marchio is as much of Rome that New York can handle. Roman and general Italian coffee culture is tricky to wholly implement in the NYC scene. Our sbrigati mindset keeps us from shifting our coffee mannerisms. Lingering at Caffe Marchio’s smooth bar counter may seem to many as a waste of time. To go is the way to go. And, that is ok. Caffe Marchio is an introduction. But, do not let it mislead you on what to expect if you ever find yourself in Rome. Hint: you will find baristas of a more abrupt nature and you better bring cash.
Let’s say Caffe Marchio is more Roman inspired, than styled.
- Smooth and strong coffee
- Right sized cappuccino
- Relaxed, no rush vibe
- Quick tasty sandwiches and
- Lots of friendliness
- Want to hide from salad eating fanatics on 23rd street
Don’t go if:
- You only have cash
- Craving a cornetto
- A large group in need of ample seating (e.a. study groups)
- You drink fake macchiatos (*cough* Starbucks)