Heading into Dunmore East from the Waterford side, you can’t miss this attractive ivy-clad restaurant with its striking blue and white paintwork. The Ship has been a fond fixture in Dunmore East for many years and, now run by the Cavaliere family, of the Waterford city restaurant La Palma on The Mall, this appealing family-friendly bar and restaurant offers inexpensive Italian and Mediterranean cooking.
A typically friendly Italian welcome get things off to a good start, and it’s a sign of things to come as the staff who are so welcoming to everyone who comes through the door also provide knowledgeable and helpful service throughout.
Tables are simply set up in tune with the seaside theme but there’s a classy rather than cheap and cheerful tone to the whole place, with smart striped blinds, comfortable seating and attractive nautical artwork on the walls.
The menu offers a wide choice, from seafood dishes to pizzas and more broadly Mediterranean dishes, while a blackboard sets out the (extensive) specials of the day. It’s all very attractively presented and includes a sourcing statement and detailed supplier list which makes interesting reading and - with the exception of tiger prawns and calamari (honestly named as exclusions, which is very rare) - is impressively local.
You might begin simply with soup of the day (broccoli and asparagus perhaps), a generous and very tasty tapas plate (combination of four, given on the specials board) or perhaps a charcuteries plate.
Mains might typically include a really excellent spaghetti marinara, or a mixed seafood risotto with fresh herbs and parmesan shavings - and yes, the waiter will be able to tell you exactly which ‘fresh local seafood’ is in your dish today - also vegetarian dishes and perhaps some more straightforward meat dishes such as the ever-popular Angus sirloin with all the trimmings. Excellent desserts include a range of homemade ice creams (the day’s flavours are on the blackboard) - and of course the coffees are spot on.
At lunch time there’s a pretty irresistible offer of 2/3 courses for €10/13 and the interesting thing is that, while Azzurro is pitched as an inexpensive dining destination, the quality and flavour of everything served is likely to exceed expectations.
Gluten free dishes (or adaptable dishes) are highlighted on the menu, and children are particularly well catered for; chicken goujons and chips on the children’s menu, for example, are clearly fresh and homemade - and the attitude to children makes parents feel very relaxed.
The whole experience is very enjoyable and, together with the great value offered, ensures that happy diners will return.