Ciao! It is not surprising that we inherited the cappuccino coffee from the Italians. Incredibly, this drink has been around since the 17th century. It is no secret that New Yorkers love their coffee. Hot, iced, foam, no foam, we love it all. There are no shortage of coffee shops in New York City. However, like a good bar, we want our coffee shop to have both good coffee and a good ambiance. ( You know free WIFI and good lighting.) If you live in Williamsburg, then you understand the struggle.
By definition, a cappuccino is an espresso based coffee that uses steamed milk (micro-foam) and sometimes includes cinnamon or chocolate powder. Cappuccinos are distinct from lattes for being more foam than milk. You can also order them iced; it is refreshing but know that your barista will resent you.
Of course, there is some debate over where to find the best cappuccino in New York City. The Zibetto Espresso Bar makes a pretty mean cappuccino coffee. However, for the real deal you gotta go to Caffe Reggio. Reggio is the self-professed home of the real cappuccino!
The First Cafe to serve the Cappuccino in the US!
New York City has a history of being home to Italian immigrants. Be sure to read What to Do in New York City’s Little Italy?
It is no surprise that NYC inherited some amazing Italian coffee. Caffe Reggio has been around since 1927. You can visit their site to learn more about Caffe Reggio's unique history and its original owner, Domenico Parisi. Under their press section, you can read article reviews through the cafe's history over the decades. In the store itself, you can see the original espresso machine in its chrome and bronze glory made in 1901. The owner Domenico Parisi had bought it with his savings when the cafe originally opened. It is rumored it costs him a thousand grand even in 1927 (holy cannoli).
High Italian Coffee with High Brow Italian Art
The ambiance is everything at Caffe Reggio. You will feel like you are sipping your cappuccino coffee in a the wing of the Italian Renaissance section of The Met. This establishment is also proud to tout that their store has a bench from a palazzo of the Florentine Medici family. The bench is not roped off and is free for patrons to sit and gaze at Italian paintings. The ambiance will instantly transport you to Europe. You'll be swept away by their tiny marble table tops and iron backed chairs. There aren't many coffee shops that exude this old world charm and still feel authentic.
This is a kind of artist in training watering hole. It has a history of attracting bohemians. Even the Beats like Kerouac and Corso have been linked. Feel free to bring a journal or a book and get lost for an hour or two. Book lovers can't get enough of the antiquity. Caffe Reggio is not a bad date spot if we do say so. This place is located in its original setting in Greenwich village and is perfect for people watching. In the summer and spring, they offer nice outdoor seating. They are opened into the wee hours of the evening and there are a lot of jazz clubs in the area. Consider after a night of blues, grabbing a late night cappuccino coffee.
Yes to Italian Pastries Galore!
If you have a hankering for more than a cappuccino coffee, they have a great selection of Italian pastries. They have no shortage of desserts. And when in doubt, tiramisu is always a winner. You have got to try a sfogliatella; it is creamy ricotta and flaky goodness. Plus there are plenty of other beverages and foods to nimble on. They have macchiatos and chai tea lattes. If you love chai, there is the Chai Spot in NYC. Their hazelnut cappuccino is a big success. You will have plenty of teas to choose from like Darjeeling, Lapsang Suchong, Blackberry, Apricot/Orange, and Jasmin. Reggio also has peppermint and Earl Grey too, for the basic tea folks.
They have a decent panini stuffed with red peppers and mozzarella. Consider also getting a crepes or an omelette. They also have some pretty tasty salads for lunch.
It's Quintessential Old New York
You might recognize the Caffe Reggio from its long list of notable IMDB creds. It has been featured in the Kremlin Letter, The Next Man, Shaft; Next Stop, Greenwich Village; and many others. However, it's biggest film debut would have to be the Godfather Part II. You might even see some celebrities trafficking this spot. Below is a great photo of Al Pacino at the cafe taken by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz. In 1959, President Kennedy even made one of his speeches outside the store front.
So come enjoy a cappuccino coffee at Caffe Reggio; it is a cup of Joe and NYC history.