With a set-up that makes you feel like it’s been a Crown Street haunt forever and with a nostalgic feel that harks back to a time before gastropubs, tapas bars and third wave coffee, Caffe Sicilia is an impeccably stylish place where you come to drink a strong espresso behind dark shades.
A hugely popular local, aiming to position itself beyond the whims of trends and fads, Sicilia is all about taking a step back from the rat-race to a place redolent with class and endless hours whiled away over bottles of Chianti.
The black and white tiled floors, service heavy with Italian accents, bomboloni and ciambella are all old-school and solid.
The pastry case is an eye-catching, sweet tooth heaven, making you hanker for cannoli and ricotta cake that you didn’t even know you wanted. The long bar has you thinking about aperitifs and a glass of red well before it’s appropriate and long afternoons in the sun at the outside tables are the perfect tonic to any inner city mood.
Marble-topped tables, leather banquettes, gold detailing and black and white historical photographs all conspire to create an illusion of Italy circa 1950. It’s got bucket loads of charm helped along by the friendly staff who, it should be noted, are a large part of the experience and can make recommendations that will lift your meal from just plain nice to something transcendent. Take dishes of salumi, pumpkin and provolone fritters, or Sicilian sweet and sour slow-cooked rabbit with pine nuts and sultanas as an example.
There’s a hefty drinks list broken into regions, a highlight of which is a Sicilia Bellini with peach granita and prosecco.
It may not have been here forever, but it’s old-school in the finest sense.