On old Galway's busiest street, Il Folletto (‘pixie’) is a lively, buzzy restaurant, and matches the atmosphere of the street on most weekend nights.
Spread over three small rooms separated by the original stone arches, it is an atmospheric spot with rustic Italian paintings and artificial vines, and warmly candle-lit. Overall the feeling is cosy and welcoming - and, like the service from the friendly and helpful staff, informal.
Menus are presented and specials explained without delay, followed by good bread and water. Chef Roberto Brasso, originally from Milan, has brought authentic regional Italian food to Galway city that is far superior to the usual Irish/Italian cuisine prevailing around the country.
Representing several of Italy’s many food regions, the menu is extensive, offering appealing starters of various types of bruschetta, salads and excellent Italian cured meats. These are followed by about a dozen fresh and dried pasta dishes and then a selection of fish and meat choices. All the traditional pizza varieties are there, from the basic at €11.00 to Frutti di Mare at €15.00.
Desserts are home-made, including a good Torta al Cioccolato, Nocciole e Yogurt (€6.95), a sumptuous chocolate and hazelnut cake with dark chocolate ganache and hazelnut biscotti.
You can usually judge a restaurant by the quality of its soup, and here the minestrone (€5.50) more than passes muster, as does the Bruschetta Valtellina (€7.95), a pleasing combination of toasted homemade bread with speck (cured and smoked loin of pork) fontina cheese and sundried tomatoes.
Main courses to try include Scallopine di Vitello ai Cariofi (€18.50), a flavoursome dish of escalopes of veal with artichokes and marsala, and Brodetto di Pesce dell’ Atlantico (€18.50), an Italian fish stew in a tomato and wine sauce with toasted crostini - although it is always disappointing to see tiger prawns in Galway.
The wine-list is an all Italian affair with most regions represented and well-priced, mostly under the €30 mark per bottle, with full carafe at €21.00, 1/2 carafe €11.00 and €5.95 by the glass.
Atmospheric and friendly, this moderately priced restaurant caters for all age groups and will keep a lot of people, Irish and tourist alike, very happy when in Galway.