An Espresso Nook Brings Touch of Italy to St. Marks Place

Photos: Joann Pan

At the tiny coffee bar that opened on St. Marks Place yesterday, the beans aren’t the only thing that have been imported: the counter, front door, and other fixtures were designed and assembled in Lombardy, Italy by architect Beppe Riboli, and shipped over in boxes.

Giovanni Finotto and Caterina Musajo, the owners of I Am Coffee, wanted the 65-square-foot space that once held Another Wireless Shop to look and feel like an Italian terrazza. Beyond the sliding-glass front door, four people (and no more) can stand comfortably at a counter that resembles a balcony. There are toy birds by the handwritten menu, water pipes holding up shelves, exposed brick walls and Italian stone flooring — just the sort of touches you’d expect from the stylish proprietors of I Am Wine, an online artisanal wine shop.

The duo learned the craft of espresso from Manuel Terzi, the creator of Caffe Terzi in Bologna. Their cappuccinos and lattes are served “100 percent the way they do it in Italy,” said Mr. Finotto. Espresso comes on a plate with a shot of filtered water and a small pot of sugar. You won’t find artificial sweeteners, flavored syrups, sugary toppings or whipped cream, though in a few weeks, the menu will feature espresso concoctions made with unexpected ingredients like pepper, walnut cream and liquid chocolate.

There are also pastries by Quirico “Chicco” Lucherini. “Everything we carry has to come from an artisan,” Mr. Finotto said.

The coffee bar (the second to open on St. Marks Place place this month) will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

I Am Coffee, 9 St. Marks Place (between Second and Third Avenues); no phone.