/Barnum Cafe, Rome

Barnum Cafe, Rome


Today my friend Diana got to town and we went for a long walk in the centro storico with the goal of doing some banking. I am completely incapable of making it to banks when they are actually open, always arriving the second they close for lunch, so we had some time to kill and took a walk to Via del Pellegrino to check out the fairly new bar Barnum Cafe. I had swung by last week after it was suggested to me by my bookseller at the Libreria del Viaggiatore next door. I had been pleasantly surprised to hear Method Man (my third favorite member of Wu Tang Clan) blaring as brownies and tea were served. I vowed to go back when I had the chance, so when the opportunity presented itself today I seized it.

Diana and I found a table and two soft chairs beside the bar in the front room. A pumpkin and onion torta rustica and fudge brownies tempted us from the nearby counter. We opted for tea instead, as we had already had pizza al taglio and cookies from the Kosher Bistro en route to the bank. Diana chose Lapsong Souchong, a smoked black tea that tasted like sweet pork broth (in a good way). My spice infusion was very gingery with a subtle hints of cinnamon. Lovely.

Barnum Cafe has free WiFi, serves tea, drinks, and light meals, and functions as an art gallery for photo exhibitions. The atmosphere is young and laid back and the only real flaw today was the conspicuous lack of the Wu. Instead, what I assessed to be an iTunes 90’s music shuffle played over the speakers. I heard some titles I haven’t listened to in over a decade (for a reason), but provided this was just a one-off occurrence, I would certainly return. But the next time I’d leave room for dessert.

2016-01-07T14:37:32+00:00 November 9th, 2009|Categories: Restaurants, Rome & Lazio|3 Comments


  1. shayma November 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    i hope this bar does well- there have been so many modern bars opening up on via del pellegrino (in the past 6 years) only to close down. i wonder why…perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Romans dont like modern places? boh.

    katie, your photos are fab, as usual.

  2. Katie November 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    i think it is hard for these places to cover the rent selling tea and a cocktail or two. if they pushed their food more, they could bring in more revenue. instead, they give it away at aperitivo to attract clients and set themselves apart from the other competition in the neighborhood. also, i think a lot of romans in the Campo de’ Fiore zone are of a certa eta’ and wouldnt spend time in a place that blasts scorpions and wu tang (strange combo i know), especially one that really tries to look young and trendy. im pulling for this place, though!

  3. Tiff Brown October 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    My husband and I just recently had two weeks in Rome and I’m happy to report that Barnum seems to be doing a good solid trade during the day at least, and I think this is due to their wonderful barista, who makes what we considered to be the best coffee we had during our stay there….a very big call, I know, being Italy and all. We’re big coffee drinkers (snobs?), and coffee we had was spot on, creamy delicious goodness, using Illy beans which lack the full-on acidity (which may appeal to some) that exists in some Italian blends. There seemed to be quite a few regulars that came in every day (including us). The music is still a quirky mix (loved it) and it didn’t seem to bother the older Italian patrons who we say there every day. Hopefully Barnum is there to stay!

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