The familiar traditions of Graham O'Sullivan's long-running coffee shop on Dawson Street have recently been replaced by Carluccio's, a sleek Italian restaurant, café and deli, and the first outpost of this highly successful UK chain.
Created by Antonio and Priscilla Carluccio, the winning formula of rustic Italian cooking, excellent coffee, great pastries and house ice creams this Dublin restaurants been quick to make its mark in the city centre.
Open all day, serving breakfast through to light lunches and four-course evening meals, it has quickly attracted a following which sees regular queues forming, especially for their take-out coffee.
A no-reservations policy means that you may have to wait around to dine (and many will choose to eat elsewhere for that reason), but there is a glorious little shop to peruse for distraction while you wait. Shelves packed with artisan pastas, quality olive oils and novelty chocolates hint at the Italian specialities on offer at the tables.
Décor is bright and breezy with colourful stacking chairs in curved laminate, wipe clean tables and fabulous pendant lights. The atmosphere at mealtimes is loud and bustling, ruling this out as a location for a romantic date; upstairs is especially family friendly, with an attractive children's menu on offer.
Staff, many of whom are Italian, have been well trained to provide friendly, efficient and extremely attentive service.
Menus change with the seasons and feature exciting regional favourites that your local Italian probably doesn't offer. Highlights include interesting antipasti plates and signature wild mushroom dishes.
Prices are surprisingly reasonable and with 17 wines all offered by the glass, bills are easy to keep down.
Although it is a franchise and unlikely to attract the same passionate following as nearby Dunne & Crescenzi, Carluccio's serves large numbers well and the food manages to have soul - finish with the house ice cream and an espresso, and you'll leave with a smile.