Barista touts itself as ‘the first real Italian café-restaurant in Amsterdam’. A bold claim given that some excellent Italian restaurants have opened in the last year or so.
Italian owner Daniele Palma, the former barista at Palladium near Leidseplein, uses Buscaglione beans for his ristretto, espresso and cappuccino, and works with a foot pump, leaving both his hands free to check that the milk is heated to the right temperature for perfect froth.
As a non-beer-drinker, my main reason to visit Barista was to sample its Italian wines. More than 30 are available by the bottle (ranging in price from €15 to €60), and around 25 of these can be ordered by the glass.
Service from Barista’s Italian staff was charmingly chaotic in the way that only southern Europeans can get away with, but we eventually received a heavy 2006 Primitivo di Manduria. This was followed by a 2008 Falanghina, an intense, elegant white from the acclaimed Feudi di San Gregorio winery in Campania.
Edging towards the top of the wine bar's affordable range (at €5.75 per glass) was a juicy, medium-bodied Sicilian ‘Plumbago’ Rosso, made from 100% Nero d’Avola grapes.
What happened after that is a bit of blur, but I know I cycled home happily and slightly unsteadily.
On a subsequent visit, I was less impressed. The red wine tasted as if it had been standing open for a while, a suspicion confirmed by the body of a fruit fly floating in it. Next time I go to Barista, I’ll pay more attention to the coffee.
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