Cucina Espresso looks like one of the old-school Italian cafes that’ve been on Norton Street for the past 15 years. However, it doesn’t serve a typical Italian breakfast. Instead of bitter coffee and a brioche cake there’s poached duck eggs with fresh truffle hollandaise and cavolo nero, homemade crostini and garlic prawns grilled on a slab of Himalayan salt.
The cafe, owned by brothers Rocco and Carlo Calautti, is extremely popular among the Concord community, but perhaps because of its humble design, hasn’t made a name for itself outside the area. It’s almost anachronistic – with Italian opera playing, curved plastic seats and whitewashed walls hung with black-and-white snaps of Italian tourist sites and jumbo Nutella jars. It serves a distinctly hip choice of coffee (Little Marionette), and a menu including several clever interpretations of traditional Italian dishes.
There are dishes like ouvo rosso, eggs poached in a five-hour Napoletana reduction with buffalo mozzarella, shaved parmesan and bites of pork and fennel sausage served with bread from Pasticceria Papa(link). There are also creative weekly specials from chef Calautti. If you’re lucky you’ll find Calautti’s dessert arancini stuffed with rice pudding and Nutella and served next to a coconut cream or his eggs poached in saffron-infused olive oil with garlic, chili, potatoes and buffalo mozzarella.
Between October and December the cafe opens for dinner on Friday and Saturday night with a weekly set menu of regional Italian specialities and homemade cakes.