I have never been more disappointed by breakfast, than in Italy.
For a country with a food so loved by the world, to offer for the first meal of the day, something as basic and boring as the caffe and cornetto, seems woefully inadequate. Insulting even.
That the average Italian is satisfied by a coffee that is more often than not, lukewarm (for quick consumption), and a cornetto more like bread than a croissant – mildly surprising. But morning after morning, day after day, Italians stand shoulder to shoulder next to a high counter, throw back 2 sips of powerful espresso, and munch ecstatically away on a doughy pastry.
It’s a mystifying daily ritual carried out endlessly in the bars that populate every other corner of the county.
Of course, after 5 trips to Italy, the caffe and cornetto has slowly grown on me, (kinda like mould on gorgonzola). And now, strangely enough, most mornings don’t feel complete until I’ve downed a strong, warmish coffee in 2 sips and bitten into a bready croissant filled with nutella or marmalade.
Just like a real Italian. Or so I’d like to think. 😉
There are some days though, when all I can think about is pouring that espresso all over the barista’s head and throwing that dense cornetto against the wall so hard, that nutella splatters across the shocked faces of the bar’s patrons.
And that’s when I know, it’s time to seek out another option.
I admit that usually it’s Mcdonald’s breakfast I turn to first. In my defence though, it is unreasonably good in Italy, with fresh-squeezed orange juice, any type of coffee you like, and flavourful Italian sausage in it’s breakfast sandwich. Pretty darn delish.
However, after weeks and weeks of the cafe and cornetto combo, my Canadian belly was craving something that even a breakfast combo at MickyD’s couldn’t satisfy. Fortunately, for us, there were a few options available in Rome that were not in the tired “English Breakfast,” category geared towards backpacking tourists.
Our requirements were simple: a good old filter coffee and eggs of some kind, that wouldn’t break the bank. After perusing a few online lists, we settled on the Bakery House – mostly because it was walking distance from our hotel in Porta Pia.
Despite recommendations to make a reservation, when we arrived around 12:30pm, the restaurant was half empty. We were seated immediately and quickly chose eggs benny and “American coffee” from a menu chock-full of western breakfast favourites, like pancakes, french toast, yogurt with granola, and various breads and cakes.
Our American coffee and fresh-squeezed juice came out first, and while the juice was as delicious as expected, the filter coffee was essentially brown water. It was so tasteless that the staff gave us an extra shot of espresso to add. Lesson learned. While Italians have mastered all manner of espresso based drinks, they can’t make a filter coffee to save their lives.
The eggs benny came out on top of salty Italian proscuitto, a small drizzle of hollandaise and a fantastic mix of fresh fruit. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was a reasonably good version, and we lapped it up, like we’d only been eating cornettos for weeks and weeks on end.
Visiting Rome’s Bakery House
Despite our experience, reservations are strongly recommended for the Bakery House, especially on weekends or at peak times. Our total meal, including fresh squeezed orange juice, 2 eggs benny and American coffee came to approximately 20 euros. A full North American-style 15-20% tip is not expected in Italy, even when eating western brunch. 😉 A few coins is all that’s expected.
Bakery House has 2 locations. One on Corso Trieste, and one on Via Riano. Full details and a menu are available on their website.
How do you start the day? Would you survive on a caffe and cornetto every day? What do you usually eat for breakfast?