By Cynthia Robertson | SDUN Reporter
The blustery winter weather calls for some TLC from a new local café in Hillcrest, Café Barbera. Known for its “Mago” blend of seven beans from around the world, owners Hilde Barbera and Philip Arcidiacono serve up luscious coffee drinks and delicious lunch items.
Located at 3614 5th Ave., Café Barbera has enjoyed a warm reception by the neighbors and locals since its move-in to the space this past July.
“It’s been a success. You know it is, when people come in for a first time, and then come back again,” Barbera said, whose great grandfather is the original “Mago Barbera,” roasting coffee right on the street in old Italy.
The five-generation tradition began in 1870 when Dominico Barbera founded the Barbera Caffè Company in Messina, Italy. “My great grandfather would have people gathering around to watch and smell the roasting,” Barbera said.
The word and aroma of the family’s coffee roasting tradition in Sicily spread throughout the world to 30 countries, and Arcidiacono and Barbera brought that tradition right into San Diego, the first American market for Café Barbera.
The move to San Diego was one that Barbera and her husband chanced upon when they came for a vacation in 2011.
“I fell in love with San Diego. I mean, who wouldn’t?” she said, with a smile.
The same could be said for the café and its city-chic interior. A pastry case filled with treats sits next to an Ariete espresso maker where barista Ryan Jones creates masterpiece coffee drinks. Soft strains of Italian opera, the sparkling, clean windows and cushioned red and gold chairs put the customers at ease as they peruse menu items for breakfast or lunch.
For Italians, dining with friends and family is meant to be a time to slow down and enjoy each other, the food and the environment. “It’s the way of Italy,” Barbera said. “It takes people here, the Americans, a while to learn how to relax.”
The artistry on a cup of Café Roma is worth contemplating before dipping the long espresso spoon deep into its contents. “We prefer our customers to sit and enjoy coffee properly, served in porcelain and enjoyed in typical Italian style,” Arcidiacono said.
Once they take that first sip, customers relax, almost melting into the chairs.
The Fantasy drinks, Arcidiacono said, are exceptional. Each type of bean is roasted separately, and then blended to maintain consistency and flavor profile. Those not accustomed to espresso, will delight in the 17 varieties offered.
The café boasts a variety of unusual creations in sandwiches and salads as well as some old favorites. One favorite, they said, is the Barbera Club Sandwich on grilled panini bread, which they purchase from Bread and Cie.
How Barbera and her husband found the space for Café Barbera is nothing less than exceptional, too. They found the vacant space, located between the Loft and Hash House a go go, listed on craigslist.org.
“Only in America would you be able to find this place the way we did,” Barbera said. “That’s how we discovered Hillcrest.”
For more information, visit cafebarberasd.com or call 619-683-2233.