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My first year in our fair metropolis I remember hearing some misguided parochial soul compare Houston to Rome in terms of beauty and culture. H-town, I love thee, but there are few things about this city that remind of Italy.

One of them, however, is Fellini Caffè.

First and foremost, because their bold, artfully crafted coffee makes that available at the Starbucks look like Satan’s bathwater. Fellini’s haute americano, espresso, and other java drinks help cultivate the authentic Italian caffè experience, that is to say, self-caffeination in elegant fashion. And it’s not just smoke and mirrors and the (real) Italian accents of the servers that produces such compelling coffee: Fellini uses a Faema Emblema, a premier espresso machine to combine its high-end blend of Brazilian, Central American, and Indian beans. Fellini’s owners imported this contraption from the motherland specifically because of its adjustable thermal balance systems which allows for the temperature to be adjusted depending on what type of coffee is used.

Like many Roman caffès, Fellini also inspires patrons to linger and sip slowly. To that end, it offers a decent-sized seating area as well as a to-go window for customers seeking cameraderie as well as coffee. (Warning: If you’re looking for stone-cold silencio in which to type on your laptop, then Fellini probably isn’t for you as even on the most quiet mornings there’s still a good level of background noise. )

Additional edible fuel for conversation is available in the form of the stunning dolci such as bombolone with pistachio cream, profiteroles covered in two types of chocolate, tiramisu, and various cannoli (try the chocolate with mint). All of the aforementioned plus more are presented in a bakery case that looks more like a museum display, so brightly do these artfully decorated sweets shine. Antipasti and panini are simple but filling and made with quality imported meats and cheeses (hence the elevated price tag).

Thanks to the sizeable expat population living in the adjacent apartments, Fellini on any given day contains more people speaking tongues than English. Indulging in an affogato surrounded by such musical conversations in Romance languages is the perfect way to transport yourself to Europe in the midst of sweltering Texas heat.

On Thursday and Friday evenings Fellini becomes even more boisterous when the caffè hosts complimentary wine tastings and light bites. Ah yes, it’s a bit of la dolce vita courtesy of Fellini–though less dramatic and more fun than the film version.

Fellini Caffe
5211 Kelvin Drive
Houston, TX. 77005

Joanna O'Leary

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