Out on the Town, Student Life

Caffè Farina offers a taste of Italy in Saint-Henri

Tucked away in the quiet southwestern borough of Saint-Henri lies Caffè Farina, a new Italian espresso bar and eatery that opened in November 2017. Serving bold coffees and caffès—Italian espresso drinks—alongside traditional sandwich recipes straight from nonna’s kitchen, Caffè Farina offers a hip twist on the authentic Italian experience.


After only four months on the block, Caffè Farina has been phenomenally successful, according to owner Vincent Pesce.  

“Feb. 16 [was] our three-month anniversary,” Pesce said. “We were supposed to open up before that, but there was so much construction on the street [that] we didn’t want [it] to interfere with [business] so we waited, and two days after we opened, the street was opened [back up] and ready to go.”

The brain-child of Pesce and his long-time friends, Farina’s menu is comprised of unique, family-inherited Italian recipes that the owners grew up eating.

“We’re four different families,” Pesce said. “We all came together and [this was] pretty much one idea we always wanted to do together.”

Luring in third-wave café experts with its sophisticated blue suede couches, marble decor, and iconic neon “Ciao Bella” tube sign, Caffè Farina’s atmosphere is so charming you would swear you were in Italy. Its menu offers four traditional Italian sandwiches, packed with hearty Italian-style meats on rustic, non-fat ciabatta buns for $10 each.

The bread Farina uses for its sandwiches is sourced from Boulangerie San Pietro, an Italian bakery that has served Little Italy for over 35 years. But, according to Pesce, the search for the perfect bun to cradle their meaty sandwiches was no small feat. Pesce and his partner scoured Montreal in search of the ideal bread.

“One day my partner [said] ‘you have to go try all the bread in the city,’” Pesce explained. “So for every bakery we really knew, we tried all the bread. I’m still full from that day. And I gotta say, [our final choice] was fantastic. We toast it in the oven a bit and it comes out nice and hot—it doesn’t break your palette and it’s perfect with the meat.”

Aiming to cater to the masses, Pesce considers it important for Caffè Farina to offer recipes and prices that anybody can love.

“My customer base is huge,” Pesce said. “From the millenials, to the lawyers, to doctors [and] students […] We’ve kept our prices very low for that reason. The sandwiches here are $10, the coffee is super cheap as well.”

In the summer, the café plans to open up its doors by installing an outdoor terrace that will cater to summer street-goers and window-shoppers, offering an aperitivo-style menu during happy hour.

“In Italy, it’s very known to have a 5 à 8, so [during happy hour] we’re going to [sell] small focaccias, pizzas, and [drinks] for half the price, or two for one,” Pesce said.

Pesce is planning to expand Farina’s main menu as well.

“We make [seven] fantastic things, and they’re good for now,” Pesce said. “In the future, we’ll have a pasta of the week, meatballs, maybe a folded pizza, like in Naples, [we’re adding things] slowly, slowly, you know?”

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