It’s been a year of casual restaurant openings for Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group — places like Martina and Daily Provisions that are intended to feed more people, faster, for less money. Next up in the mix is Caffe Marchio, a new Roman-style stand-up coffee bar in the Redbury Hotel, opening on Monday.
Like Union Square Cafe’s sister, Daily Provisions, Caffe Marchio is a counter-service operation that’s steps away from its full-service sibling restaurant Marta, the three-year-old Roman pizzeria in the hotel. Its entrance is separate from Marta, with a door at 30 East 30th Street near Madison Avenue. Here, chef Joe Tarasco wants to be able to “feed the masses” for breakfast and lunch, particularly people in the neighborhood, he says.
But the chef says it’s a totally different restaurant from Daily Provisions, though they’re both casual daytime spots serving pastries and sandwiches. And despite wanting to draw crowds, he says he wants people to hang out in the cafe as an “experience.”
At Caffe Marchio, he and pastry chef Jess Weiss, with designer Home Studios, tried to make a cafe that emphasizes the design of the room as much as the food. Coffee in New York is often a quick in-and-out situation, but in Rome, “it’s ceremonious,” Tarasco says.
“It’s the five minutes to kick off your day,” says the chef, who also runs Marta, “and I think a much more heartfelt and fun experience as opposed to ‘I’m addicted to coffee, and I need to fuel up to get going’.”
Look for high ceilings, standing tables with brass-hued stone and metal, gallery walls of illustrated portraits, a long counter with an array of Italian pastries on display, and a menu of coffees from Joe Coffee, a USHG-invested company that created a special Roman-style blend for the restaurant.
The goal of making it a straight recreation of Roman coffee bars continues with the food, which emphasizes pastry. Options like a crostatini, a tiny pie-like cookie with fruity fillings, and a maritozzi con la panna, a brioche bun packed with a lightly-sweetened whipped cream, can be spotted in nearly every bakery and cafe in Rome, where breakfast skews sweet, Weiss says. The latter, she adds, is a “quintessential Roman breakfast.” The only New York-created pastry is a “specorino,” a flaky cornetto with spec and pecorino for those who want a more savory treat.
“We didn’t go off on a weird angle or tangent,” she says. “Everything is super straightforward, super authentic, to the best of our ability.”
Lunch is where adherence to Roman classics will likely be less strict. Some sandwiches, like a pizza bianca with mortadella and a ciabatta stuffed with classic Roman dish pollo alla cacciatora, will be lunchtime mainstays, but others will shift around based on what’s available on the market. A braised pork cheek sandwich with cherry tomato salad, for example, may eventually be changed to instead use canned tomatoes.
Mostly, they want to keep the menu moving and lively, even as it’s a place intended to be traditional. “There are so many grab-and-go places in the neighborhood that are doing fine stuff,” Tarasco says. “But we’ve tried to say, we’re going to make great food, but we have a point of view.”
Check out the full menu below. Caffe Marchio opens to the public on Monday, September 11th, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.