Caffè Barocco

Tel: +39 06 686 1118
Address: 77-81 Piazza Navona
Cuisine Type: Classic Italian
Tables outside? Yes

There are many bars and restaurants in glorious Piazza Navona and most of them charge a high premium for watching Roman life parade in front of you. Caffè Barocco may not offer haute cuisine, but its position is perfect – almost opposite Bernini’s Fontana della Quattro Fiume and the church of Sant’Agnese – and it doesn’t charge you a fortune for the view.

On a chilly spring day it also catches the maximum sun, and therefore offers a perfect lunchtime retreat (huge umbrellas in summer providing the requisite shade).

The menu is basic – this is more of a cafe than a restaurant, after all – with a range of simple antipasta dishes such as prosciutto crudo with (non-buffala) mozzarella and basic pasta dishes for around €7. My penne al’Arrabbiata looked as though someone had opened a tin of tomato soup to throw over the pasta, but it was good and spicy (and the menu does warn that pasta dishes are pre-prepared).

There is a range of salads (€7) and side orders – for example some delicious spinach – are €4; there is also a small list of pizze (€6.50 – €7.50). Having been abstemious with the food for once, I was able to taste the Tartuffo Barocco (€6.50), which is a wicked confection of dark chocolate ice cream with a heart of Kirsch-soaked cherry, topped with an almost obscene mound of whipped cream. The torta di cioccolato looked magnificent, too, and a snip at €5.

The range of drinks is wide, of course – we were particularly impressed with a very buttery Frascati Superiore (Principe Pallavicini) at €13. Service was amazingly good (and good-humoured), considering that one waiter, as far as we could tell, was coping with all the outside tables.

One doesn’t tend to venture inside when in Piazza Navona – after all, you are there to see and be seen – but there is a charming salon with tables if the wind is too sharp, and also – for those who worry about such things – a four-star loo.