From and to and , to name only a few, JP is the fortunate home to a host of great bakeries.
With the opening earlier this spring of , the residents of the neighborhood’s Latin Quarter now have a superb spot where they can satisfy their caffeine cravings with more than a little Euro-flair.
“Every single person has said that Hyde Square needed a coffee shop,” remarked congenial general manager Kristopher Cere, who earned his brewing badges at before joining Caffè Aromi's team.
“Business is going well,” he added. "There's a mixture of new and familiar faces.”
Caffè Aromi occupies the site of the former June Bug. The completely renovated space bears no resemblance to its predecessor.
Intended to recreate the ambiance of an Italian train station, the uncluttered café sparkles with chrome, glass, ceramic tile floors, ultra-modern furnishings and the whitest of white walls. While you sip one of their robust coffees, with a little imagination, you may be able to convince yourself that you’re waiting to board the next express train to Firenze or Milano.
“We’re still in the soft opening phase,” stated the relaxed Cere. “It’s a work in progress. We’ll experiment a lot.”
Along with outdoor seating at a now unused patio, Cere, who majored in painting and worked in an art gallery for four years, envisions adding a splash of color to the minimal surroundings.
“We’ll have shows by featured artists and plan to bring First Thursdays to this end of JP,” he said. "I know how to hang paintings."
And barista Grayson Hartwick knows how to make coffee. Customers can choose a simple Cafe Americano, or order from a full menu of hot and iced specialty drinks.
A student at SMFA, Hartwick is also an artist on the cafe's gleaming, stainless steel, turbo-fired machine (Fiat? Alfa Romeo? Or Lamborghini? No, it's La Marzocco) where he whips up frothy concoctions like the delicious Iced Vanilla Almond Latte that he recommended I try.
Despite the bakery’s Italian inspiration, you won’t find cannoli or biscotti. Lead baker Katie Koval, who came to Caffeè Aromi by way of Au Bon Pain, described the pastries as “fusion French."
There's a changing selection of goodies like muffins, scones, croissants and pan au raisin ($2-$4) that are baked on-site fresh every day including sweet Blackberry and Blueberry Muffins, and savory Spinach and Cheese Croissants.
For more substantial fare, Caffè Aromi offers a rotating selection of panini ($8.25 whole or $3.75 mezzo.) Vegetarian varieties include Fresh Mozzarella with Tomato and Basil, and Melted Brie and Granny Smith Apples with Walnut Pesto.
Served on hot-pressed ciabatta, the Grilled Eggplant with Mozzarella was a colorful and tasty sandwich that was all dressed up for the classy café with the addition of roasted red peppers and some fresh greens.
Cere plans to expand the menu with soups, salads, smoothies and parfaits.
Koval foresees changes ahead, too. She's looking forward to “getting more creative with the sandwich offerings,” adding gluten-free products, fine desserts and perhaps vegan baked goods.
“I’d love to go down that route,” she stated.
With only more good things to come, Caffè Aromi is already a welcome and delicious addition to JP's bounty of bakeries where you can enjoy fine coffee and a moderately priced light bite to eat in a swank, unpretentious and friendly setting.
Located at 403 A Centre Street, 617-524-2200 is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.