This is a sign. More like a sign of the times. Back in the day, I used to wander around Rome in search of a chocolate eclair. It was my thing. Or more like a self-placed, huge-ass chip on my shoulder.
Just to clarify: I knew I wasn't in France, and as a rule of thumb, I don't believe in nutella, so don't even attempt to assuage me with cornetti al cioccolato aka nutella. I just wanted an eclair once in a while and I went looking for them.
So yeah, I was that girl who paid the entrance fee to Villa Medici just to go to the caffe (no eclairs). And I hung out around Palazzo Farnese to follow around the Ambassador de France's chef. (He makes his own.) No dice. There were no eclairs in Rome, until last Sunday.
Caffeteria, Piazza Sant'Eustachio
Pasticerre: Michela, whose eclair artistry came from a few years in London at the Ritz and Bulgari Hotel.
The introduction of the eclair to Rome's sweet scene is a far better harbinger of things to come than the cupcake craze of a few years back, an era in which quicky/crappy gelaterie and ersatz paninoteche flooded the streets of the centro storico and all we could look forward to was the gelato popsicle. That craze meant less quality across the spectrum- from food to clothing to exhibition curation. I spent more time shaking my head at all the black-and-white tiled paninoteche and the Brandy Melvilles. To flip a Dickens quote, it was the worst of times, it is the best of times.
I am not going to argue that lackluster has died out, but I've noticed there is more of an investment in the recent openings in the center. It started with some restaurant renovations and has traveled all the way to art, most notably with Lorcan O'neil moving to the Campo de' Fiori area. It's almost as if there is a return to old school-- by old school, I mean what was once is now. And before you get all up in my face about the real Rome, take a 7:45am walk with me around the center.
Back to Caffetteria, also known as that other caffe in Piazza Sant'Eustachio which the Professor fondly remembers for its ceiling mirror, is a reboot on the old-school Roman caffè~ i.e. gorgeous bar, beautiful pastries, velvet indoor chairs, painted wall-paper, and great outdoor seating. Menu is pretty good too~ 2,70 euro for a cappuccino al tavolo ain't too shappy when it ain't shabby.