L’Arco, built on the site of an old Royal Irish Constabulary barracks, off the main street in the centre of Ballyvaughan village, is an Irish-owned, Italian restaurant.
The arched stone entrance and courtyard remain from the original building and the large dining room has windows looking out on the courtyard and yet, with black and burgundy décor and dark wood, it is quite a dark room.
Run by the Quinn family (who also own the Hylands Burren Hotel), with David Quinn as GM and Italian chefs from Sardinia, the aim is to offer an authentic and affordable Italian dining experience, and it would suit families and diners seeking pizzas and pasta at reasonable prices and in comfortable surroundings.
From the range of popular starters (about €5.50 to €8.50) Antipasto Misto, (€16.50, serving two), is a wise choice and offers very good value with a pretty array of dried meats, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and Italian cheeses.
Pizzas are probably the best bet here, the crisp-based Napoletana with tomato and anchovies reasonably priced at around €12.50, and another good choice might be an al dente pasta: Orecchiette al Gorgonzola (€13.50) in a cream sauce crunchy with walnuts and with mild blue cheese flavours.
Desserts (all around €5.50) are homemade and include old favourites like Panna cotta and Tiramisu. Strong, good coffee is Caffe Moreno, the house brand.
An Italian wine list of about twenty wines offers Prosecco €25.50, house wine €18.00 plus a token French bottle: Champagne Jacquart €59.50. An Italian beer, Nastro Azzurro is €4.30 a bottle.
With enjoyable, well-priced food and a different style to other restaurants in the area, L’Arco fills a local gap between fine dining and very casual food, and offers a welcome midmarket alternative.