Across from Parque Calderon, half a block north of the cathedral on Benigno Malo, there is an unassuming doorway that opens up into the lovely seminary courtyard surrounded by two stories of restaurants and gift shops, and one of the best views of the domes anywhere.
On the south side of this courtyard on the second story, is Filippo, with covered outdoor seating at a number of small tables overlooking the courtyard. There is also an indoor seating area for larger groups, but the charm of the place is definitely outside. There is a spiral staircase to get to the second floor, but there is also an elevator that allows full wheelchair access.
I was meeting a friend in El Centro one evening last week, who had been delayed, so I stepped into Filippo for a short snack while waiting. It ended up being a longer snack than expected, but the wait was a pleasant one.
Not surprisingly, Filippo has an Italian menu, and they also sell a number of excellent cheeses, hard salami, and crusty loaves of bread. I wasn’t there for a full meal, and was instead most interested in their appetizers, and ordered their picada pequeno a cheese board for two for $11. There were four different kinds of cheese, all excellent, slices of hard salami, a basket of bread (which they refilled at no extra cost) and a small bottle of olive oil. They make the cheese themselves, and it was a treat to taste a truly sharp cheddar. The other cheeses were equally impressive.
But the bread is what will keep me coming back. I know how hard it is to bake at this altitude (I bake some pretty good scones, he said modestly. Yes, I do.), and Filippo has found the right techniques for making a crusty loaf that is soft and light in the center, and is really, really tasty.
This might seem steep for a little snack, but it was more than a little snack and left me completely satisfied and laden down with enough food for a next-day lunch. They also offer a picada grande for four people at $17.
I also had a couple of glasses of wine ($4 per glass). I had an excellent Argentinian Malbec, and a good cabernet sauvignon. Their wine “cellar” was fairly extensive, filling up a wall inside the restaurant. I didn’t count how many bottles they had. They also had 13 kinds of beer.
The service was excellent and friendly. The quiet ambiance was enhanced by an excellent violinist who strolled between the tables, playing light classical music.
Filippo Wine, Cheese, and Bread, Seminario San Luis, Cathedral Nueva. Hours, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily Cash only. Family friendly. Disabled accessible; Reviewer note: highly recommended