Not exactly a cafe, Vittoria has been on my cards for a while, as the look of it (especially after a recent refurb) is very appealing. Plus, it’s Italian. Important fact, as I used it as an excuse one fine afternoon to visit, as if to crack on with my language learning. Or maybe it was the other way around? Either way, I wanted to believe that the surroundings would work as a stimuli to bigger effort, but, as expected, I felt a bit out of place sitting with my books and a cup of coffee in the centre of a bustling restaurant that was filling up quickly.
However, the feeling of uneasiness was coming just and only from within myself; the staff were polite and helpful and did not make the slightest problem out of my request. I was, indeed, treated like a regular customer coming in for a full-blown Italian feast, with all the Italian flattery that you can find in many authentic Italian restaurants in Leith (and by authentic I mean: one that is run by Italians; despite the fact that, like in this case, the chefs may be Polish). Thank goodness I had eaten not long before then, because the food did look and smell very appetising; but at the time all I wanted was to find out whether this Italian-staffed, Italian-menued and Italian speaking venue served Italian-quality-coffee.
There was a slight delay with my drink, which I didn’t mind as I wanted to take my time an absorb some inspiration (which, obviously, wasn’t happening). There were many tables taken and all were just being served or being cleared, so I could understand the wait; however, if I had been sitting there with no books and no one to speak to, I would have probably got rather annoyed – but that’s a rather unlikely scenario. When the coffee arrived, the waiter apologised for the delay with a charming smile – a way of acknowledging a mistake without looking (or probably feeling) guilty whatsoever; a thing you get used to when you spend enough time among Italians.
I liked the presentation of my mocha, although when it came to drinking, the espresso beans were annoyingly constantly in the way and I ended up eating a couple to avoid publicly picking them out of my mouth. That wasn’t the only discouragement, however: the coffee simply wasn’t sweet enough. It tasted a bit bland, and although the texture wasn’t too bad, it lacked smoothness and consistency of a perfect mocha. I guess I could compliment the little chocolate served on the side, although I cannot say whether it would have improved the taste of the drink, since I decided against it.
When I asked for the bill in a broken Italian the waiter seemed very surprised that I should be learning his mother language in Scotland (not the first time I’ve heard this comment, and I can’t see anything odd about such practice!). They must be getting enough questionable polyglots visiting this place, as the waiter did not act upon this revelation, simply brought me the bill and politely wished me a good day on my departure. With that charming smile, of course.
I shouldn’t set too high expectations for a place that does not brand itself as a cafe; yet, they do have the reputation of the best in Edinburgh for Italian cuisine, and I think it’s fair to expect the best coffee to accompany the food. Although, after one of their meals, one’s taste buds are probably too watered down to bother with judging the quality of their dessert beverage. Either way, a good place for a family lunch, not so much for a catch-up over a cuppa.
Verdict justification: Warm atmosphere, professional staff, good food (so they say) – but the coffee lags behind