600 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Mon-Fri: 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat: 8:00 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Drinks: $1 – $5
Lunch: $3 – $9
While standing on Fountain Square, looking around trying to decide where to eat, a familiar and delightful scent hit our noses. It smelled like coffee, but it was not from any one of the stores on Fountain Square. Following the scent a block away, we found the source of the coffee – Tazza Mia.
At first their smoking sign on their 600 Vine location looks like it’s on fire or something, but upon further inspection we realized they had cleverly hooked up their coffee roaster to vent out on the street. They have another store down the street in Carew Tower, but no coffee is roasted there.
Tazza Mia has slowly been trying to expand its operations, and the 600 Vine location is a relatively new one. Its roaster used to be located in West Chester, but they decided a location switch would likely get better business.
The menu at Tazza Mia is also quite expansive, with drinks ranging from good ol’ coffee, espresso and teas to several mixes and specialty drinks. Despite their loose teas being quite intriguing (With names like “Himalayan Green,” “Ginger Peach”, “Winter Mint” and “Grand Earl Grey” who wouldn’t be interested?) , we decided to let that wait for another time and to just try their coffee and lunch. We decided we’d try out a coffee, Pale Horse Bourbon and a Piña Colatte… Or we would have, but they were out of the Piña Colatte, so Adam got the Peanut Butter Cup Latte.
Tazza Mia didn’t forget to craft a decent breakfast, lunch and baked goods/desserts menu to go along with their coffees and teas – and I think everyone downtown is thankful for that. There are several healthy options to pick from, so finding something something for lunch you wont worry about later is relatively easy. They have a build-your-own salad bar as well as several sandwiches to pick from for lunch – unfortunately we got there just after the salad bar closed, so we got sandwiches. Adam got the Pot Roast Panini and I got the Chicken Pesto Panini.
The coffee at Tazza Mia is rather good for the price – you can get a large cup of coffee for only about $2, and you wont curse the flavor and your dependance on caffeine on your way out the door. Instead, you’ll be pleased – or at least we were – that you got a fresh, good tasting cup of delight. While not the very best coffee that we’ve had, Tazza Mia’s coffees are certainly better than most we’ve tried. It could have been a bit stronger, but I like really strong coffee and I know that’s not everyone’s thing.
Our drinks – the Pale Horse and Peanut Butter Cup Latte, were exceptional. The blends of flavors were complimentary, smooth, energizing and relaxing – in a weird sort of way. They were the kinds of drinks you relax and enjoy a book with. The Pale Horse Bourbon Latte is a mixture of bourbon reduction, white chocolate, whole milk and espresso. While a homemade peanut butter reduction, dark chocolate, whole milk and espresso make up the Peanut Butter Cup Latte. Tazza Mia has six “New Hand Crafted Drinks” all hand written on a white board hung next to the menu. The Piña Colatte we wanted to try is pine apple reduction, coconut milk, whole milk and espresso combined.
If you order the Peanut Butter Cup Latte, I’d advise that you swirl your drink frequently to make sure it mixes well and the peanut butter reduction doesn’t sit at the bottom. If it sits, as we let ours, the drink will end with a strong funky peanut buttery punch that’s not really all that pleasant. This does not apply to the Pale Horse Bourbon though, as it was smooth and well mixed the entire way through. Hopefully the Peanut Butter Cup Latte is the only drink which needs swirling to keep the ingredients well mixed, rather than all gathering at the bottom.
The best I can think to describe our sandwiches is, well, that they were absolutely delicious, but way too little. Their size is partially due to the nature of sandwich bread – not being very large in area, however they also were not filled very much. What we did get was fabulous and left us wanting more. My Chicken Pesto Panini was grilled chicken, tomatoes, provolone cheese, parmesan cheese and pesto sauce on ciabatta bread. While Adam’s Post Roast Panini was pot roast with carrots, swiss cheese and chipotle mayo on garlic panini bread. Both fairly simple sandwiches that, despite their size, were just packed with delicious flavor. I think Tazza Mia’s sandwiches are a fine size if you have something else to eat with it, but on their own they were not enough to fill us.
It was really not busy when we went, only two other people in line and they both got to-go, and all three of the staff members we chatted with seemed pretty friendly and were all in a good mood, but for whatever reason none of them had gone and cleaned up the tables. They don’t have many tables, but most of them were littered with breadcrumbs. Not really wanting to wait too much longer to eat, we wound up cleaning our own table and eating there. Nobody came out to clean them up while we were there either.
Overall, Tazza Mia has a ton of potential to be a great place. Great and easily accessible locations, better than average coffee, good sandwiches and nice decor. However, for what you pay their sandwiches are awfully small – but still delicious. Also, from what we’ve observed they have the unfortunate habit of running out of ingredients for their hand-crafted drink menu for a long while. Finally, they should probably clean up their tables more often. The place was far from filthy, but it’s unappealing to eat on a table covered in the crumbs from some unknown previous diner. Granted, I have no clue how people manage to make that kind of a mess.
These few complaints we do have could all be easily remedied, and are certainly not enough to keep us away – their pesto will have me thinking about it for weeks. However, it is enough to keep them from being a 4.5 to 5 plate coffee house. If you liked their coffee, you can also buy the freshly roasted whole beans (and other coffee supplies) in several varieties/roasts.
We’d love to hear what you think – did we miss something? Was our review spot on? Tell us your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
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Verdict: With A Bit of Refinement, They’d Be Awesome
Tazza Mia is a warm cafe with good, affordable coffee, espressos, teas, specialty drinks and all the other trademarks of a coffee house, along with relatively healthy food items that go well with coffee. The coffee is roasted on-site so it is always fresh, and is also sold in store (and at other retailers nearby). Our two sandwiches – the Chicken Pesto Panini and Pot Roast Panini – were fantastic, but for the price you really don’t get much. This is particularly not a good thing when you’re really hungry. If you can make it in time for the salad bar, it may be better portions for the price – we missed it though. There are a few other things Tazza Mia should work on, but I think (and hope) with time they’ll get better.
Also, whoever came up with the idea to hook up their coffee roaster to their street sign so that it would vent the roasting coffee smell out onto the street was brilliant.