Home to several restaurants along the way, Osteria Lucio is The Malting Tower’s newest incarnation in the low-lying cocoon beneath the railway bridge at Grand Canal Quay.
The cosy room has been tweaked and brightened up, making the best use of this unusual arched space. The seats are smart and comfy, the neutral colour scheme stylish and, although the main restaurant requires artificial lighting, the front area by the bar and wood-fired oven is flooded with natural light.
Outdoors a generous pavement terrace looks onto the quiet cobbled street where the only disturbance is the rumble of overhead trains. A table here is the ideal summer spot as dining indoors beneath the windowless arches may just feel wrong on a fine day.
A joint venture between Ross Lewis of Chapter One and his friend, Luciano Tona, the menu reflects the shared values of these two top chefs, focusing on authentic Italian recipes, seasonal ingredients and pristine artisan produce. Neither chef is cooking here, but their trademark precision is evident in the cooking and plating of dishes.
Breads are good, with wood-fired pizza a speciality, maybe featuring radicchio buffalo mozzarella, taleggio and Italian sausage. In fact there’s lots of great salumi (or charcuterie) on offer, with the an antipasti platter- loaded with regional meats like 20-month-old prosciutto, strolghino, capocollo, salami felino and Gubbeen pistachio salami - a real treat.
Simple pasta dishes like chitarra vongole spaghetti (flat spaghetti with clams) are frill-free, starring house made pasta and quality ingredients. Daily specials, perhaps slow roasted lamb neck fillet with cavolo nero, mash and cauliflower remind you that this newcomer has serious pedigree.
The house tiramisu is especially luxurious and, as you’d expect, they serve excellent coffee.
A short wine list (all Italian, bar the champagne) includes a few imaginative offerings by the glass. Service is efficient and polite and, while it’s not cheap to dine here, the prices reflect the quality, effort and integrity of this welcome arrival.