Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tea Time at Zeno

[It's Food Week at AHIR: all food, all drink, all week, leading up to World Nutella Day on February 6!]I have a fantastic new discovery for all you tea-lovers out there. Let's just say that finding a really nice cup of tea in Rome isn't the easiest thing to do. After all, we are in the espresso capital of the known world. So, fair enough.

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


Anonymous said...

That's huge !! Thanks for the tip !! I'm a crazy tea-drinker (actually I can't drink coffee without feeling sick in the 5 next minutes !) and I really suffered when in Rome 6 years ago...
Do they sell tea bags as well ? (I don't know if it's clear... I mean tea leaves to take home and put in boiling water lol ! because last time I was there, we only could find Lipton and such horrors ;-))

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Isabelle: I'm definitely a tea person rather than a coffee person as well. I didn't happen to notice any tea for sale at Zeno, but I can give you a tip of a really nice tea boutique where I get the tea that I leave for my guests in their apartments: Il Giardino del Te, on Via del Boschetto. www.ilgiardinodelte.it Lovely shop!

Tracie P. said...

that crepe COULD be flour tortilla taco...mmm

Waspgoddess said...

Aaahhh, I'm drooling, longing, wanting -- now! As if I needed another excuse to go to Rome..?

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

MMMMMmm what luscious words and photos!

African Kelli said...

You are killing me with these posts. That looks so darned good! I want to fold myself up in that crepe!!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Shelley, grazie,

I don't drink coffee (long story) but I do like tea. I will have to check out this Zeno place. that crepe looks outstanding!

Me and Him said...

Oooh I am a tea drinker. This place looks like heaven.

FinnyKnits said...

Great post - what an awesome find in Rome. Now, granted, I come to Rome to give myself an excuse to drink espresso (it's never as good here in the States), but being a tea drinker by design, I'd race to this place if I lived there.

And, really, who needs a tour book when we have you!

Best Rome tour guide ever. These places should be paying you for all your press!

Anonymous said...

Good news about Il giardino del Te, I used to live via Frangipane, just nearby, but at the time, this shop didn't exist, poor me ;-)
I agree with the girls, your blog is much better than a travel guide !!!

Anonymous said...


you're so full of surprises. You even provide tea for your guests?
Although, I'm a coffee drinker, can't function in the morning without the caffein. But, tea at the end of the day is so relaxing!

Sono daccordo with Finny, you're the best tour guide and you should get paid for the advertisements, which is really your background.

That's funny about you mentioning the lack of biblioteche publiche, I never thought about it when I lived there.

I'm so glad I finally figured out how to post a comment, so I'm no longer a lurker, I suppose....:)