Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Superlative Cappucino

Back in 2002, William Grimes wrote an article for the New York Times on the best espresso in New York, and Via Quadrono came out on top.  

As an eager nouveau New Yorker, I dutifully made the trek to the Upper East Side to see what all the fuss was about.  What I found was an absolutely charming, truly European cafe.  There's even an actual bar that people stand up at to drink their coffee, just like Italy.  I tend to drink espresso after big Italian dinners, not in the middle of the day, so on my maiden voyage I opted for a cappucino instead.  It was gorgeous.  

The espresso was, as promised, rich, and it lacked that trademark bitterness I've come to expect after years of drinking espresso at lesser establishments.  The foam was rich, the bubbles were tiny, and I was completely happy.  Until, of course I got my bill.  But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, $4.50 is a small price to pay for such utter competence.  And on the plus side, they've kept the prices the same since opening, so perhaps this means the price is technically declining?  

Now I will admit, the scene at Via Quadronno is a bit odd to me.  Located on 73rd and Madison, it attracts a much more uptown crowd than I am used to.  On more than one occasion, I have stopped in on a Saturday morning for a quick bite after an exercise class and have had 60-something men offer to buy my meal for no discernable reason (well I can surmise at their motives, but do not want to assume).  And I was there recently on a Thursday at 2:00 p.m. and the wait for a table was 45 minutes, which I guess implies that the patrons of this fine establishment do not, as a rule, work.

But that said, if you can get a table and avoid inappropriate male patrons, you will have the privilege of snacking on lovely panini followed by an excellent coffee variant of your choice.  I might, however, counsel you to steer clear of the $57 fondue.  Times are tough, however delicious it might be.

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