There’s something about a sidewalk cafe that makes our hearts skip a beat. They are a beautiful and tangible intersection between the hustle of daily life and the forceful and welcoming pause that mealtimes encourage. It’s an overlap, a merging of two very important and very necessary parts of what it means to be human—and when a sidewalk café is offering something absolutely delicious, it quickly becomes one of our favorite things.
Tucked away in a little alleyway behind the Hôtel de Police, a handful of tables dot the sidewalk in front of L’Ulivo. A single potted olive tree stands at the entrance—a reminder of Nicola Fiamingo’s roots, raised on an olive farm in Calabria that his father still owns and operates. We sit and are greeted in true Italian fashion—our son’s hair is tousled playfully, our Prosecco and bruschetta arrive in perfect time, and a bottle of Nicola’s father’s olive oil is placed on the table next to the fresh bread. It is indeed a beautiful vibrant green, and the taste is a perfect balance of fruity and herbaceous—and for 15 chf for 500 ML, a bottle made its way into my purse as well.
The menu is simple, fresh, and by the sound of only Italian speakers around us, authentic. Nicola, the owner who spent time managing Accademia, is serving us with what we know is a smile under his mask. He is passionate about the food, and carefully explains each dish with precision and care. The highly curated menu is in some ways refreshing for us—the smaller choice means that each dish is there for a reason. It’s made fresh, it’s made well. We devour our antipasti and homemade pasta—the flavors whisk us away to our distant holidays in Italy. We aren’t sure if it’s the sidewalk dining experience, or the satisfaction we feel after such a delightful meal, but we couldn’t believe it had taken us such a long time to find this little gem. Though it’s hidden, it’s a treasure that’s worth discovering.