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Best of Rome: Nightlife|
Bars in Rome are a world away from the sweat-fumed, alcohol-dunked venues you’ll find in London or New York. You don’t really get what you might call a “coffee shop” either.
You just get bars, and most bars sell food.
All bars make coffee, either hoping to cash in on or causing the average Italian’s penchant for drinking espresso two or three times a day. They also offer a range of spirits.
Some double as pasticcerias, selling cakes, bicuits, cornetti (croissants), desserts and the kind of things you'd get in a French patisserie. Many sell ice cream.
So, bars are multi-use, good for breakfast (capuccino and a cornetto), coffee and snacks (spuntino), aperitivos before lunch and dinner and “tramezzini,” triangular sandwiches at lunchtime.
Circolo degli Artisti
This relaxed venue is one of the places in Rome where no one is going to notice or care what brand of shoes you're wearing. It attracts a young-at-heart crowd who come to sip cold drinks under leafy branches on hot summer evenings, or take evening walks around the maze-like garden.
Bands perform regularly -- including many up-and-coming indie names -- and there are comedy and house music nights too. Check their website for events.
Food is a primary consideration -- pizzas, starters and other main courses are available at the al fresco restaurant.
Via Casilina Vecchia 42, Rome; www.circoloartisti
Bar Gelateria Pompi
There's just one name when it comes to tiramisù in Rome -- Pompi.
Nothing else comes close to the little dishes of creamy almost runny mascarpone layered with rich coffee-soaked pavesini biscuits that Giuliano Pompi has been making in Rome since the 1960s.
The bar in via Albalonga (near piazza Re di Roma in the San Giovanni area) is where it all began.
Pompi has since branched out from the traditional coffee and chocolate recipe. They now do a pistacchio tiramisù and other flavors include banana, strawberry and Nutella. Classic coffee is still king, though.
They've also opened a second bar in the heart of one of Rome's nightlife hubs -- piazzale di Ponte Milvio, a 30-minute walk north up via Flaminia from piazza del Popolo.
Around the corner from Pompi's via Albalonga bar, on piazza Re di Roma, there's a great pizza al taglio called Casa dei Supplì, where locals swarms like bees to buy the fried rice balls made with ragù (supplì) and the “arancine,” bigger fried rice balls with various fillings, including some vegetarian options.
Via Albalonga 7B/9/11; +39 6 700 0418; and via Cassia 8B/8C; +39 6 333 3488; www.barpompi.
Cristalli di Zucchero
When Gambero Rosso, one of the most prestigious publishers of restaurant/food guides in Italy, awards three coffee bean and three espresso coffee cup symbols to a bar, it can only mean one thing: that bar is hot.
In the world of coffee bars and pasticcerias, the beans and cups have the same weight as a Michelin star, so Cristalli di Zucchero is well endowed.
Locals go crazy for their croissants and the panettone.
The only other bar in Rome awarded three cups and three beans from Gambero Rosso is the Stravinskij Bar in the Hotel de Russie (via del Babuino 9; +39 6 32 88 81).
The “Healthy Hour” cocktails, created by award-winning barman Massimo D'Addezio, are delicious, but so are the hedonistic alcoholic ones.
Cristalli di Zucchero: via di Val Tellina 114 and via San Teodoro 88 (standing room only in the latter).
Exploring the wonders of the Roman Forum or the breathtaking Capitoline Museums is undeniably thirsty work. Don't miss the colossal head, hands and feet of Constantine the Great in the museum's internal courtyard or the impressive bronze Marcus Aurelius on horseback.
Caffè Capitolino is a perfect place to take a break from the history and it's open to the public, not just Capitoline Museum ticket holders.
Standing on the Campidoglio, with your back to via del Teatro Marcello and the grand flight of steps, take a right around the side of the Capitoline Museums and you'll see Palazzo Caffarelli on your left, in front of piazzale Caffarelli.
The side entrance will take you to the second floor and Caffè Capitolino, where you can have a relaxed lunch, cake, coffee or drinks. The café's terraces offer excellent views across the Roman Forum and city rooftops.
Open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; +39 6 6919 0564
The best coffee in Rome?
Much has been said and written about the best coffee in Rome, but there seems to be a consensus that it's found within a stone's throw of the Pantheon.
Sant'Eustacchio il Caffè is a small bar in the piazza of the same name where they make their espressos behind a screen to keep the process secret. The bar also sells small packets of coffee that make great gifts.
But Sant'Estacchio has a rival, in the form of Tazza d'Oro, on the other side of the Pantheon. The latter also makes fine coffee, Many visitors try both, get wired and then decide which is best.
Sant'Eustacchio il Caffè: Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82; +39 6 6880 2048; www.santeustachioilcaffe.it
Tazza d'Oro: Via degli Orfani 84; +39 6 6789 792; www.tazzadorocoffeeshop.com
Many other bars in Rome are also worth a mention, including:
Mondi (via Flaminia Vecchia 468, +39 6 333 6466; near Ponte Milvio) is legendary among locals for its exquisite ice cream, pastries and cakes. A must if you're in piazzale Ponte Milvio.
Doppio Zero (via Ostiense 68; +39 6 5730 1961), where the aperitivo buffet is a feast in itself. The surrounding area of Garbatella is also worth exploring.
At Freni e Frizioni (ia del Politeama 4/6; email@example.com) the decor is industrial mixed with contemporary art with a bit of vintage thrown in. There's a buffet for clients every evening. It's one of the hipper places to enjoy a cocktail in Rome's trendy Trastevere.
Oasi della Birra (piazza Testaccio 41; +39 6 574 6122) is half-tavern, half-shop, a fascinating locale jammed with quality wines, beer, artisan-made chocolate and other superior comestibles. Sit at a table and you can choose from an extensive wine, beer and snacks list -- there are more than 150 types of cheese on the menu and, for the brave, about 10 kinds of (flavored) lard. There's also a good pre-dinner buffet.
Open Baladin (via degli Specchi, 6; +39 6 683 8989) near Campo de' Fiori is the place for tasting and revering beer in the same way that sommeliers drink wine. If that's not your style, it's still a quiet spot where the beer, with hints of bergamot and coriander, isn't your usual Heineken.
Angelina (via Poli 27; +39 6 679 7274) is just off viadel Tritone in the city center. It's a perfect pit stop from shopping. It opened a year ago and is a cozy little café adjoined to a restaurant where you can usually get a seat. The tiramisù and fruit tarts are great.