This northside quays branch of Stefano Crescenzi and Davide Izzo's popular Dublin restaurants chain Bar Italia bears all the hallmarks of this talented team: sassy Italian waiters offer attentive service, quickly seating new arrivals, and the banter lends a relaxed atmosphere - matched by colourful, flavoursome food, simply presented.
The minestrone soup can be memorable (always a great test), panini and pasta dishes - egg pasta homemade on the premises - are excellent, while risotto fans will really enjoy the risotto with seafood (clams, mussels, squid & prawns in a seafood stock base).
So far, so good - and all very familiar too. But did you know that Italy has its own take on the 'tapas' style nibbles that are now so popular in Ireland?
It's a Venetian speciality, 'cicetti', which allows diners to nibble from a variety of small dishes rather than eat starters and mains as they do in other Italian regions. Venetian cicchetti wine bars offeri tastings of local specialities served with shot glasses of 'ombra', the local Venetian white wines.
Bar Italia’s cicchetti menu offers a dozen different small, moderately priced, dishes (about €3.50 to €7) which, as is usual with the Dunne & Crescenzi group, combine authentic Italian cuisine with local Irish ingredients - as in Lasagnetta (layers of lasagna with spinach and McConnells smoke salmon, 7.00), or Bresaola (thin slivers of dry aired beef filled with goats cheese and Gee’s honey, 6.50).
Three little dishes per person is the recommended serving - but that doesn't mean you must miss dessert, which is especially good here. The many cakes and desserts baked in-house include tiramisu (of course), profiteroles and an unforgettable Italian chocolate cake - and it's a place worth seeking out for their espressos alone.
Despite the charming Italian banter, service is quick and professional - and it's great value too.