On the corner of 3rd and Ash Streets, Pozzi Coffee Wine Bar & Bistro is creating a new turn on timeless classics. Steve and Candy Pozzi have designed a portal into another place, with smart décor and an atmosphere that takes you to an Italian café on a busy European street. By day, coffee culture rules, but as the sun sets, a concentrated menu of bonafide American classics and old country culinary artistry takes center stage.
I recently visited on a Sunday evening with my very good friend, Pirate alum, and the backbone of Fernandina Beach High’s school spirit, Mrs. Christie Frahm. We met as the sun was setting and the weekend bustle drawing to a close. Walking into the building, however, we were brought to attention by the arresting aroma of fresh-ground coffee. Above the bar, How to Marry a Millionaire plays silently as the harmonies of the espresso machine and jazz music prepare the senses for a delicious meal.
We were seated in the center of the room, where I could watch all the action on the line. Steve started us off by pouring a taste of their Corvo Rosa Rose. Unlike any that I’ve had, this Rose is Sicilian and has the refreshing tartness of under-ripe fruit and body to hold up against Steve’s Onion Soup, which he proudly served to start our meal. The onion soup is prepared by braising whole onions in their own juices, and the rest is a secret Steve has been perfecting since his days at Emerson’s Steakhouse.
Along with the soup came a delightful charcuterie board. A staple on many menus these days, Pozzi’s dedication to a concise menu focused on authentic, high-quality ngredients makes this dish a must-have. We enjoyed a true 600-day aged Proscuitto di Parma, Breseola, and Capicola, along with 24-month Parmigiana Reggiano, Gorgonzola dolce, and a French Chevre. The meats are sliced on a hand-cranked slicer, which slices them perfectly thin by an expertly sharp blade spinning at a rate slow enough that the friction of the blade doesn’t melt the fats in the meat. In other words: perfect ingredients, perfectly prepared.
For our entrees, we enjoyed a Surf and Turf. The dish included a Maryland-style crab cake made exclusively with jumbo lump crab that was all thriller and no filler, a roasted Maine lobster presented in its shell with drawn butter, and a certified Angus beef filet mignon. The filet was 8 ounces of grill-roasted perfection, served simply without sauce or garnish. Our sides on this visit were saffron rice and roasted white asparagus.
We shared this bonanza of food and enjoyed a Pecorino from Umani Ronchi that was floral on the nose with touches of peach and citrus, accenting the sweetness of the lobster and crab, while not being intimidated by the beef.
To finish the evening, we enjoyed an espresso-soaked Chocolate Cake and a Carrot Cake topped with crystalized threads of carrot with a delicious Counter Culture Cappuccino. As we were gathering our belongings to leave, Casablanca was on the screen and La Dolce Vita was on our minds. Pozzi Coffee Wine Bar & Bistro is located at 300 Ash Street and is open Wednesday through Sunday. Visit firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.