Mara's Italian Pastry

Overall Rating: 5.450


Address: 503 Columbus Ave
Cross Street(s): Green St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94133
Neighborhood: North Beach
Phone: 415.397.9435
Hours: Su-Th 7am-10:30pm; F-Sa 7am-12am
Type of Establishment: Bakery
Cafe Rating: 5.50
Barista: 4
Savvy: 5
Ambiance: 6
Presentation: 7
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: Elektra
Coffee Rating: 5.40
Aroma: 6
Body: 5
Brightness: 5
Crema: 6
Flavor: 6
Taster's Correction: -1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: Lavazza
Cup Manufacturer: Le Porcellane d'ANCAP
Price: $1.75
Last Update: 11/11/2006
First Reviewed: 07/18/2003
Notes: Outdoor Seating

Review
This old school, Calabrian-themed Italian pastry shop once had a touch for good espresso under its longtime ownership. The owner had been using Graffeo beans religiously since 1985. However, by 2006 they switched to Lavazza beans and began making inferior espresso (though the two aren't cause-and-effect). I've been unable to confirm with certainty, but this looks like another example of a sinking North Beach (forget Venice!): a likely ownership change as the old guard retires from the business. Mara's is a small space with many pastries in the window and counter. A few indoor café tables with some token outdoor seating. The new proprietors are a bit sloppy with the two-group Elektra Maxi here, and they seem not to really care about their espresso. Hence, this place has lost its authenticity. The resulting pour has a very thin, blonde crema and a weak body. (While the espresso had always been mild here, the crema was much thicker and the flavor was full: of spices and some sweeter notes.) Today, the flavor here is of the pedestrian variety of watery mild spices and pepper. Also gone are the Café New York-branded IPA cups in place of Lavazza-branded cups. The coffee and cannolis are still here, but the soul is gone.