Some prefer it pure, some with the addition of voluptuous whipped cream, some flavoured. However, hot chocolate remains an irresistible indulgence, a symbol of winter treats, to be enjoyed with a slice of cake, pastries, or biscuits. Trieste, with its sumptuous historic cafes exuding an atmosphere linked to the legacy of the Habsburg Empire - not by chance is also called “the little Vienna by the sea” - is rich in places where to indulge in a relaxing break in an exceptional setting. Below are 7 addresses not to be missed for those seeking artisanal hot chocolate made with craftsmanship and delightful snacks in the city.
Antico Caffè San Marco
With more than a century of history and yet feeling timeless. Here, everything tells a story of an era and creates a magical atmosphere to be enjoyed in the well-kept dining room, on the outdoor terrace, or in the library spaces, where events and book presentations are often held. The San Marco is loved by everyone: university students, scholars, foreigners, and Trieste locals of all ages who stop by in the morning to start their day with impeccable espressos, cappuccinos or “gocciati” beverages, fragrant croissants, and the exquisite specialties of the house, including excellent vegan cakes. These accompany a beautiful selection of teas and herbal infusions or excellent hot chocolates made with premium cacao in the afternoon.
Antico Caffè San Marco – Via Cesare Battisti 18/a - caffesanmarco.com
Historical pastry shop dating back to 1836, a fairy-tale place where time stand still, enchanting visitors with perfectly preserved Art Nouveau furnishings and a vintage wood-fired oven still in operation. The hot chocolate here is truly exquisite and can be enjoyed alongside a slice of the rich and comforting cakes of the Austro-Hungarian tradition, which are among the specialties of the house, ranging from Rigojanci to Dobos, Sacher, Pischinger, and Linzer.
La Bomboniera – Via XXX Ottobre, 3 - Facebook
Founded in 1900 by Alberto Pirona, it's a true city institution boasting a history of illustrious visitors, from the nobility of the time to James Joyce, who began to give life to his “Ulysses” right here. The interiors are delightful, and the Liberty-style outdoor seating area is fascinating, almost removed from the traffic of Largo Barriera. A bubble in time where one can indulge in a moment of peace with an excellent coffee or a velvety and ethereal hot chocolate made with high-quality cacao. The pastry shop splendidly combines Austro-Hungarian heritage with French and Italian tradition. Not to be missed is the impeccable Presnitz, as well as the incredibly light strudel and the Sacher torte. Also deserving of mention are the tarte au citron and the splendid array of cremini chocolates and bonbons. A recent addition is the opening of a new branch on Via Cavana.
Pirona 1900 – Largo Barriera Vecchia, 12 – pirona1900.com
Caffè degli Specchi
Rich in magic and charm, Caffè degli Specchi is appreciated by both locals and an international audience. Established in 1839, incredibly elegant, it's the only one of the remaining historic cafés of the four that once occupied Piazza Grande, now Piazza Unità d'Italia. Inside, one can breathe the atmosphere of the Habsburg Empire. It's an ideal destination to spend some time with a cup of hot chocolate that will rejuvenate you, served here as a “cicchetto” (small bite) alongside coffee, whether hot or chilled, depending on the season. The various special coffees are also excellent (the Viennese is a must-try), as well as the selection of teas and herbal infusions. To accompany your drink, there's abundant choice of house delicacies. A curiosity for those who love to travel through flavours: there are over ten breakfast formulas inspired by various world cuisines, from Balkan to Greek.
Caffè degli Specchi – Piazza Unità d’Italia, 7 - Facebook
An iconic name in regional baking artistry (since 1848), Eppinger welcomes crowds of Trieste locals and visiting tourists every day, serving up a moment ofpeace in a well-maintained and elegant establishment, complete with an intimate first-floor lounge and a lovely outdoor area. The day can begin with a good cappuccino and a slice of cake or with cookies and croissants; the choice is abundant, especially on the sweet side: the highly renowned pastries and petit fours are always appreciated, perfect for creating takeaway dessert assortments, and equally famous are the chocolates and typical specialties of Trieste tradition, notably the presnitz, pinze, and favette dei morti. There's a good selection of herbal teas and infusions, and the hot chocolate is excellent for a delicious snack.
Eppinger Caffè – Via Dante, 2/b - Facebook
It's located just a stone's throw away from Piazza Unità d'Italia and was the city's first café, established in 1830, becoming a haven for artists and intellectuals of the time. The old and luxurious atmosphere is characterized by stuccoes, mirrors, and spaces in imperial style. It's worth stopping by even just for a coffee; it's excellent and is served with an inevitable small glass of dark hot chocolate in winter or with cream in summer, along with a long list of drinks listed “alla Triestina.” The artisanal hot chocolate is truly delicious, and one can also savour it on the terrace overlooking the sea. At the counter, there's a rich and tempting offering of sweet treats - impeccable in its Austro-Hungarian heritage - and savoury, contemporary, and international options (the buns are a must-try). The dining experience is simple yet sophisticated, perfect for a non-trivial lunch or a romantic dinner.
Caffè Tommaseo – Piazza Nicolò Tommaseo, 4 – Facebook
It's not part of the historic cafés, but its hot chocolate, prepared every day in full view in large pots, has even been celebrated by The New York Times. It's available in cups of various sizes (small, medium, large), in a chilled version during summer, and also in jars with the mix to prepare it at home. However, one should also try the irresistible special coffees enriched with various creams and spices. And then, there's so much chocolate: bars, dragee pralines, spreadable creams, not to mention cookies, sweets, and gelato in the summer. The well-curated interior decor provides a cosy atmosphere, and outside, there's a long communal table.
Chocolat – Via Cavana, 15 - Facebook