Zaza Espresso Bar
I walk into Zaza Espresso Bar and order my cappuccino ($4.00) to stay. Co-owner Raffaele seems pleased with my choice and announces that he'll make mine extra special (I cross my fingers that this means "never ending"). He laments that the passers-by who order their lattes to go are missing out on the true espresso experience.
This is the brainchild behind Zaza, opened by Raffaele (who just recently moved from Italy) and his cousin. "We want to bring the culture of espresso to Toronto with an authentic Italian espresso bar," he says. It starts with a good product and is enhanced by the social experience. He stresses that in Italy, people take their time - they order a drink and before they know it, they've been sitting for hours. They taste the flavour, they enjoy company.
Toronto is by nature a hustle bustle city, always on the go - not limited to the way most of us drink our espresso. Raffaele crinkles his nose at his paper cups, which distract from the overall flavour of the drink and most of all, eliminate the social aspect he favours.
Coming from Naples ("the city of espresso and pizza," he beams), Raffaele brings his own espresso machine and his special blend, which includes a certain density of cream (an Italian tradition). He says that it's not uncommon for Italian families to boast their own espresso blends. On the menu as well is his own invention, a "latte multistrato", which is multi-layered, and in the summer he'll make espresso granita (iced) as well as gelato. There are a few Italian sweets to choose from, as well as some aperitivi to "cleanse the palate."
Zaza has been open in Yorkville for about a month; their first location opened about 8 months ago at Royal York and Eglinton. They also opened a bigger spot called Bar Mocha at St. Clair and Yonge, which offers more food and a lounge. But if you're ever in the Yorkville area, I can speak from experience - stop in and say hello to Raffaele. He will introduce himself to you and encourage you to stay for awhile - cause when it comes down to it, that's what enjoying an espresso is all about.
Update: Please note that this cafe no longer serves Illy coffee