Caffè Umbria

From the ashes, beauty will rise. And what a beauty has risen in the Pioneer Square spot where once there was an outlet of the distinguished Torrefazione Italia chain, whose cafes were shut down by new owner Starbucks. Georgetown roaster Caffè Umbria, co-founded by a scion of the family that ran Torrefazione, has opened a flagship retail store at the Occidental Square location. In a city crawling with coffeehouses, Caffè Umbria has created something unusual: a truly Italian-style cafe with a long bar—not a counter, mind you, but a bar for sidling up to and retrieving the rich, complex coffee for which the roaster is becoming nationally known. More interesting still is what else you can retrieve. Caffè Umbria serves pastries, of course, but also tantalizing chocolates, gelato, a few simple lunch items and Italian wines, which I may never drink on a respite from the office but whose presence I enjoy. The more substantial fare comes from impeccable sources: DeLaurenti supplies its excellent paninis ($5.95) and from Osteria la Spiga comes a delectably creamy lasagna carne made with spinach noodles ($8.50). There are few workaday delights to rival visiting Caffè Umbria on a sunny afternoon, taking a seat within its elegant and airy open space and looking out big windows onto the brick courtyard beyond. 320 Occidental Ave. S., 206-624-5847, www.caffeumbria.com. DOWNTOWN

 
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