An unusual triangular building is the unlikely venue for Tom Walsh and Fiona Russell’s delightful Italian restaurant in the heart of Kinsale. Featuring whitewashed stonewalls and exposed beams in a split level building that follows the slope of the street, table settings are simple bistro style with little candles, and very comfortable cushioned seating.
It all adds up to an atmospheric setting for good cooking showcasing locally sourced produce in wood fired oven pizzas and Italian.
The menu, on a sheet of paper, is not fancy but - in simple language and easy to understand - very effective, and the Big Red Board (their version of the blackboard) is central to Bruno’s.
Packed to the edges with specials, it offers tasty seasonal fare like stuffed Portobello mushroom, or a warm salad of crispy San Daniele ham with organic green beans, spring onion and pesto; also perhaps fresh local squid with chilli and garlic, or linguine with red onion, garlic, chilli, fresh organic tomato and basil.
The brick oven, imported from Naples, is put to good use in the triangular kitchen, visible to all. They are very proud of it and also of their slow rising sourdough, which gives a soft and digestible crust. That cornicione (the crusty edge - literally the ‘cornice’) is excellent, so don’t discard it!
If you go for a classic pizza you won’t be disappointed, but the specials are something else. Here, the emphasis is very much on local seasonal produce and they produce outstanding pizzas using Frank Hederman's Smoked Mackerel, Toonsbridge Mozzarella and Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding, for example.
Ravioli, salads, bruschetta all feature, and you may well find penne with hot Italian sausage on that big red board, or a special pizza with slow roast pork, mozzarella, thyme, and aioli. Local fish is a regular feature, something more-ish like wood oven roasted whole Irish prawns in garlic and lemon, perhaps, served with aioli and Arbutus sourdough.
The wine list is short and totally Italian as is the beer (Peroni). Wines, which are directly imported from artisan Italian vineyards, include three whites and three reds available by the glass at around 5.50, also a dessert wine and a couple of frizzante (one by the glass).
Service is friendly and informative, enthusiastic about what they have to offer - good produce in season and well cooked - and the pricing is keen. The relaxed ambience, quality and good value make Bruno’s deservedly popular and they fill up early, even off-season, so bookings are advised.