Sunday, August 26, 2007

Discovering the West Village: Sant’ Ambroeus

As great as some of the Italian food is in New York, there are a few notable deficiencies in the local Italian offerings, namely the city's espresso options. New York’s notorious espresso and coffee is too often bland or burnt, and generally foul. (If I am unable to find potable coffee by 9:30 am, then the entire day is certain to be cephalalgic or riddled by Starbucks.) Perhaps New Yorkers are indifferent or commercial rents are too high for a good café to be economically feasible. But in a city that otherwise demands culinary perfection, its cafés, including those with pretensions to quality, are awful. For New Yorkers, Starbucks’ ubiquity has never been a cause for alarm. To be sure, I have been able to find fair espresso in good Italian restaurants like Bar Pitti, the Batali Empire, and pre-corporate 'ino, but never anything to get excited about.

J-Wy finally found a nice and relaxing place in his West Village neighborhood to have a coffee and look at the Times, namely Sant' Ambroeus. Located at the picturesque corner of Perry Street and West Fourth, this café makes a nice espresso with an attractive crema. The staff is friendly and breezy; they do not appear to be under pressure to turn tables. Either the margin on a $3.50 coffee is sufficient, or the servers realize that it should be. The espresso would not win many plaudits in the intense Portland scene. But in New York, Sant’ Ambroeus is a pleasant neighborhood café. It also makes a small, tasty bresaola sandwich, on its menu of paninetti all’Olio, that it serves on a sweet roll with lemon zest and arugula. Now that La Colombe has opened in Tribeca, forever changing the coffee equation in New York (and yet another import in a city increasingly dependent on Californians, Parisians and now Philadelphians for its finest food and drink), I am unlikely to be back. But Sant’ Ambroeus is the place to go when strolling around the Village.

Sant' Ambroeus
259 West Fourth Street
New York
(212) 604-9254

No comments: