I just returned from lunch at Aroma di Roma in Long Beach (yet another great tip I've gotten from fellow 'hounds).
I had a "Campagnolo" panini which consisted of smoked mozzarella, tomato slices, pieces of frsh basil, and sun-dried tomato paste. The panini was delicious - the creamy, delicate flavor of the mozzarella was contrasted nicely by the basil and the tangy, slightly salty tomato paste. The focaccia bread it was made with was very flavorful and was not greasy in the least.
Now, for the star of the show and the reason I visited in the first place - the cappuccino. It was easily the best cappuccino I have had outside of Italy. It was made with Lavazza coffee (which I found on my Italy trip to be my favorite, much more so than Illy). It produced a deep, robust espresso flavor that lingered on the palate for some time. And there was absolutely no hint of bitterness - a perfectly pulled shot. This may sound silly, but the other aspect of the cappuccino that really blew me away was the foam on top - the perfect consistency! Thick and almost cream like. In my opinion, a truly great cappuccino (which I considered this to be) has to have the wonderful contrast in both flavor and texture between the espresso/milk and the foam on top. This was truly and OUTSTANDING cappuccino.
I introduced myself to the owner, Tim, and let him know that I found out about his place from Chowhound. He is very familiar with the site and said that he has received numerous customers from the board.
Happy New Year everyone!
AROMA di ROMA
5327 E. 2nd Street
Long Beach, CA 90803