The sacred weekend brunch buffet is an institution in Berlin. And though it can be tempting to try out a different café each weekend, trekking across the city in search of 5 euro, all-you-can-eat, groaning tables, I'd venture a guess that you'll get mighty sick of the same array of bought-in-bulk cold cuts, bowls of fruit salad, cubed feta cheese with chopped tomatoes and arugula (at the progressive places!) and boiled eggs as the weeks go on. I know I did.
Then Sylee told me that a favorite Italian restaurant of mine in Schöneberg, Café Aroma, also did a Sunday brunch. And that it was good! Not the usual cold cuts and Brötchen, she said, and that's really all I needed to know. We headed there the next weekend with some friends.
Café Aroma has been at the top of the adorable Hochkirchstraße, nestled into the Rote Insel part of Schöneberg, since 1987. Run by what seem to be an assortment of Italian friends, both in the kitchen and at the front of the house, it specializes in homey Italian food, simple and pleasing. On Sundays, the restaurant opens at 11:00 and boasts a groaning board placed directly opposite the bar when you walk in. Come hungry and be patient with the limitations of your own belly. You'll want to fill your plate several times.
There are tiny meatballs in tomato sauce so good I'd bottle it. There are lovely roast potatoes, squidgy and herbal. There's poached salmon and roasted peppers. Stuffed mushrooms and cauliflower in homemade béchamel. Wedges of frittata. Breadcrumb-stuffed calamari. Grilled slices of zucchini and eggplants. Little squares of lasagne. Slices of imported Italian salami, tender and almost sweet. Some dishes are there every time we go, some things are new each time we're there.
Everything on the brunch buffet could use an extra dose of salt, but this seems to be a Berlin-wide malaise. I don't really understand it. Otherwise the food is fresh and tasty and impressively varied. Aroma's not interested in using chafing dishes, which results in some dishes that should be served hot being a little lukewarm, but that doesn't really bother me (how un-Italian of me, I know). I'm just so pleased to have found a brunch spot that I love going to again and again.
If you've got room at the very end (I never, ever do), there's always tiramisù and fruit salad and a few other desserts (the last time we went, there were creampuffs and a berry-topped Bavarian cream).
It feels like our own little Berlin secret, to be nestled in Aroma's four walls on a sleepy Sunday morning, hearing the waitress banter in Italian with the bartender while we munch away contentedly. A walk up and down the streets of the Rote Insel afterwards, passing the cemetery where the Brothers Grimm are buried, helps with digestion and prolonging that languid Sunday feeling.
(030) 782 5821