The signage is so low key that you may well walk past this bijou basement Italian without noticing it – look out for the two tiny wrought iron tables outside the door for smokers. But once you find it there’ll be no forgetting it: a little slice of Italia right on Dublin’s quays.
This Dublin restaurants unlikely location, with mismatched chairs, crammed in tables and stark decor is part of the charm and you’ll forget the traffic outside as you tuck into some truly tasty and exemplary regional fare.
The no-frills approach includes a printed A4 page menu that’s decidedly casual, but once you read the short list of dishes on offer you’ll realise this is no ordinary cheap and cheerful Italian.
Perhaps you’ll find starters of bruschetta with juicy Sicilian caper sprouts and lemony olive oil, or carpaccio of porchetta – thinly sliced roasted pork served with mustard and olives.
Simplicity is the key and each ingredient is chosen for its quality and authenticity. Hence you won’t find creamy pasta sauces on offer for mains; rather regional specialities like gnocchi with rabbit and pepper ragu or fettuccini with a light, barely there Calabrian tomato sauce.
You’ll be handed a basket of sliced bread too and the charming all-Italian staff will be disappointed if you don’t use it to mop your plate afterwards. But don’t overload on bread: if the seven layer chocolate cake, complete with silky layers of gianduja is on the menu it’s highly recommended, alongside a wonderful espresso. Lighter options, perhaps a bowl of plump Italian cherries, are also a surprising treat.
Wine is Italian, with just a choice of house white or red, priced at €22 or just €4 per glass.
It can be difficult to get a table at this little gem, but the infectious atmosphere (it’s often crammed dining Italians), friendly staff and unbelievable value make it worth the effort.