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Restaurants & Bars 7

Berkeley - Caffe Trieste. Papa Gianni sings on Sundays. Che fantastico

rworange | Oct 3, 200512:34 AM

I’ve never stopped by the SF Caffe Trieste when there was music. The Berkeley Caffe Trieste is a roomier coffee house complete with wi-fi. The menu is expanded and so is the music program.

Tuesday night there’s live jazz from 7 – 9. Monday at 7 pm is traditional Italian piano and mandolin music, Friday 10/7 at 8 pm there will be balafo (pan-African music). Friday night music features a different style of music every week. All this for nothing more than the price of a cup of coffee … and a voluntary contribution in the tip glass for the musicians.

However, I can’t believe that any of these programs capture the sheer passion and showmanship of 84 year old Pappa Gianni and the North Beach Band’s Sunday afternoon of Italian traditional music and operatic arias. Gianni, the founder of Café Trieste in SF, worked the crowd, strolling around the café and the side walk tables mike in hand, energetically singing in Italian. I was in awe.

When Lori Stark stepped up and belted out a few arias, it was more Italian than anything I’ve seen in Italy. There were two other singers, one of which got the crowd to sing Volare … well at least the part that goes ‘Volare, oh oh, cantare, oh oh oh oh” No one except the singer knew the other lyrics … in Italian.

Four musicians playing a piano, bass guitar, regular guitar and accordion, accompanied the singers. One of the band members sang a Louis Armstrong medley, like Louis.

It was a crowd that spanned generations and lifestyles. There was a mom with a baby that was fussed over by elderly lady with a walker. There were student types diligently sitting along the window working on their computers and a really tall guy with a pink silk fan and artistically arranged Kleenex on his head … and everyone in between.

A parking place opened up near Café Trieste and I decided to finally grab a cup of cap and check out the place. Great barista – in keeping with the fall season, he made pumpkins in the foam. It was really impressive to watch the flick of the wrist that created the cappuccino art. Just like the SF location, it was a nice strong brew with a bit of a bite and medium foam.

There’s an extended selection of Italian pastries and cakes in Berkeley. Fiorello gelato is available in seven flavors. Today’s selection included pistachio, spumoni, raspberry, vanilla bean, espresso, chocolate, cookies and cream.

Panini’s on Semifreddi rolls are available in hot and cold form. Italian cold cuts, on good bread, you can’t go wrong. The quiche with salad looked really good. There are two soups – minestrone and Tuscan bean.

There are morning egg sandwiches on bagels and croissants. For $1.50 there are containers of Brown Cow yogurt.

The beverage/coffee list is long with a few things I haven’t seen before like spiced milk and a milk toddy. There are six beers on tap and a half a dozen wines. Monday thru Friday from 4 pm – 7 pm is happy hour. Draft beer is $3 a pint and $1 a glass. Wine is $2.75. A pint of beer, salad and pizza special is $6.50.

Full from Sunday brunch elsewhere and a dessert at Sea Salt, I bought a glass of Chianti in addition to the cap. The music program was charming.

Oh, and if you are into knitting, on Wednesday nights starting at 6pm it’s Stitch ‘N Bitch.

The East Bay Express on the Monday night Music

The Berkeley Daily Planet on Caffe Trieste

One more – the Chronicle on Caffe Trieste prior to opening

Caffe Trieste
2500 San Pablo Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94702
(South Berkeley)

Monday – Friday: open at 6:30 am
Saturday – Sunday: open at 7 am
Sunday – Thursday: close at 10 pm
Friday – Saturday: close at 11 pm

Link: http://www.caffetrieste.com/index.html

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