All that is about to change. How is it possible that Zeno has already been open for a year and I hadn't found it? Boh! (Maybe I can manage to use my favorite Italian expression in every post this week.) In any case, now that I've found it, I'm letting you in on the secret.
These people know tea. Not only do you get your very own little tea set when you order, it comes complete with a TIMER that tells you when to pull out the filter. Geniale!
This is the Japanese tea set I got when I ordered the Bancha green tea. Their menu has about 7 pages of different teas: black teas, white teas, green teas, herbal teas, (wait, I'm starting to sound like Forrest Gump with shrimp...I'll stop now.) Besides tea, they also have lots of cose sfiziose, indulgent things, like crepes--I counted no less than 16 different kinds, even one with whiskey and one with fig and pear. The one below was with a 70% cacao dark chocolate and was massively rich. I shared it with my friend but between the both of us we couldn't even finish it.
There are tea smoothies, 8 different types of hot chocolate from Domori, a super-gourmet chocolatier in Genova, as well as hot chocolate "aromatizzato" with flavors ranging from hot pepper to coconut, liquorice, cinnamon and even the intriguing Schezuan pepper. Not sure I'd go there with hot chocolate, but it's fun seeing it on the menu anyways.
This is the tea-prep station where they get your little tea set ready after you order. The wait staff is really friendly and explain everything to you on your first time in. When your timer starts beeping, they give a discreet look over to check on you, just to make sure you know where everything goes and don't need a hand.
The atmosphere is laid-back and trendy without being stuck-up. There is a cozy feeling, like when you curl up on the couch with a good book. I've been here twice and both times I've found it to be a relaxing and enjoyable place to be. I even got the impression that they wouldn't mind if you took a book to read or did some studying, and that, my friends, is really something: it's not easy to find a place to just "hang out," read or study here in Rome. Public libraries are pretty much non-existent, and of those that do exist, most won't even let you bring in your own books! I've found the coffee bars geared to a quick espresso on the run, not kick-back coffee houses like you might find on a college campus, for example. So this is another point in Zeno's favor.
Zeno is in the Prati neighborhood not far from the Vatican Museums, but is so hidden away that no tourists will probably ever discover it, unless it gets listed in a guide book. So, tourists and visitors in the know, take the tip: if you've spent a day wandering around the Vatican and you need to take a load off, let the folks at Zeno pamper you for a bit. You won't regret it!
Via Santamaura 60
Open 4 pm-1 am daily; closed Mondays