For some time, an old colleague of mine in my last job had been telling me to get over to Balzanos for a great cup of coffee and a bite to eat as they had recently extended their premises and were no longer just an Italian shop, but a superb coffee shop too.
I knew his recommendation was a trustworthy one as his girlfriend is Italian and this is the ONLY place outside of Cambridge city centre that she will go to for a cuppa. If its good enough for her, well….
As soon as I stepped foot through the front door I knew this was a place I wasn’t going to leave (and stay I did…for 3.5 hours with some of the best writing I’ve penned in some time!)
You can just visit this family run shop, with a huge selection of fresh fruit and veg as well as pasta, gnocchi, risotto, sauces, syrups, sweets, biscuits, cakes, pastries, wines and beers, oils, teas & coffees, meat, cheeses…the list goes on and on. This is a large Italian deli and a best kept Cambridge secret…of which won’t be a secret for much longer that’s for sure!
Their large and airy coffee shop towards the back of the shop is decorated with clean and colourful wallpaper and the most interesting light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. It has a huge communal bench, as well as smaller tables, sofas and outdoor seating in a gorgeous little suntrap at the side of the shop. It’s perfect for all weather, being light and summery at this time of year, but I could see it being warm and welcoming on a rainy day too!
After spending a small fortune in the shop, I ordered myself a mocha (large, which was LARGE!) and a slice of Chocolate Nutella Cake homemade on the premises. This was so moist and chocolatey, not too rich, but one slice was certainly more than plenty!
The barista made my mocha lovingly, it took him a while to get the coffee art just so and he wasn’t letting me have it until he was satisfied with his masterpiece…so impressive!
The service is friendly, smiley staff is always nice nowadays, especially with my recent experience of a particular local deli and it’s terrible customer service. The only thing I would say is one of the waitresses was a little too eager to clear away my empties and literally grabbed my coffee cup from my hand as I downed the last sip…. Saying that, it was nice not to have dirty crockery festering around me in the heat of the day, so no bad thing.
The odd builder came in and asked the staff if they did takeaway sandwiches, they do, but not the sort these guys were looking for. I’m sure they get this a lot, but they answer each query with a genuine smile, no matter if they know they won’t be interested.
This is a place I would come back for a business meeting or with friends for a relaxed catch up, it’s a Cambridge treasure and I’m just unsure why it’s taken me so long to visit, they even have customer car parking at the back which is an added bonus on this busy road.
They also hold cakes and pastries made by the very talented Corrine at Gourmandises and I know for certain that her macarons are to die for, having enjoyed her Buch De Noel for my Xmas Tea Party last year as well as various cakes at the Clandestine Cake Club, as she is a fellow member.
The attention to detail here is inspiring, it’s clean and spacious both in the shop and the coffee shop, with freshly picked flowers on the mismatching tables and local artwork adorning the walls, it’s a supportive venue, full of local suppliers and produce and it deserves our support, that’s for sure.
It’s also said locally that at Xmas time, it’s, well… Like Xmas (!) with shelves covered in boxes of panettone to rival all panettone, I just can’t wait to see that for myself.
For my full photo album for this venue, please click here.