Best Place to Reminisce about the Old Country
A visit to San Pablo Avenue's Caffe Trieste on a Sunday afternoon when Pappa Gianni is playing with his North Beach Band is enough to make anyone sentimental for the Old Country, even if they're native Californians. Crowds of Italian expatriates pack themselves into Trieste's inviting tables and chairs to sip espresso and dream of yesteryear. The cafe provides one of the few places for folks of all ages to gather along San Pablo's West Berkeley corridor. This funky neighborhood with its salvage yards, clothing shops, and rotating restaurants has spent decades trying to figure out what it wants to be and Caffe Trieste seems to be pushing it in the right direction. As an added bonus, the iced mochas here, made with Guittard chocolate, are the stuff of fantasy. Pastries, quiches, and panini also round out the menu. Despite the tight quarters during show times, the audience skews to the older generation and the performers keep the crowd rapt. When the singing gets especially emotional, it's not unheard of to see a stray tear flowing down a craggy cheek.