Photo by Viktor Richardsson
An LA indie musician who loves to knit and spins his own yarn moves to Berlin and meets a tattooed Neapolitan ‘slow food’ proponent who rolls his own cannoli. If Ragù, the café that synthesises the couple’s mutual interests, didn’t exist, Portlandia would have to have invented it. (Do both gents have beards? Do you even have to ask?) But if you can stomach the twee, this might just become your new favourite wintertime hideout.
The space is divided in two: a cosy front room serving coffee drinks, lined with knitter and pattern designer Marc Smollin’s shawls and skeins of his handmade yarn; and a back kitchen and deli counter where you can watch chef Andy Barbato simmer his signature meat sauce, to be served over pasta (€5 for a respectable lunch-sized portion; €9 for bigger appetites). The rest of the menu varies according to whim, seasonality and whichever specialty ingredients can be hauled over from Naples and Sorrento.
With art from American or Italian friends displayed on the wall and miscellaneous items for sale ranging from sardine oil to wooden knitting needles to cardboard wallets folded out of milk cartons, Ragù is clearly a labour of love – and whether you’re there for lunch or knitting classes, you’ll be given a warm welcome. Just don’t do both at once lest you end up with an accidental spaghetti scarf.
The next knitting class will take place on February 6 at 10:30am. Both beginners and advanced knitters are welcome – and don't worry, your teacher can explain how to cast on, cast off, knit and purl in German, English and Italian. The class costs €35 and you can buy material there or bring your own.
Originally published in issue #144, December 2015.