In a terrific location, just across the road from Dublin Castle, PJ and Dee Butuci’s pleasing Italian restaurant has an unusual USP - about 70% of the seasonal organic produce used comes from their own Co Wicklow farm: “The farmhouse gardens are an integral part of our philosophy towards cooking and healthy lifestyle, and we believe that our customers should eat as well as we do at home.”
It’s not a fancy place but the space is nicely divided, tables are well sized for comfortable enjoyment of a meal - and the panelled walls on the ground floor are lined with dozens of large black and white photos, not of the usual film stars but of normal Italians going about their daily chores and pleasures.
There seems to be a menu for every part of the day, including lunch (with an unbeatable 2 course special for just €10.00), dinner, early bird - and even a late bird - all informative and in refreshingly plain language. The expected pizzas and pastas are there, of course, but there’s much more than that, with quite a selection of seasonal dishes - and children are well looked after, with healthy choices available seven days a week.
Combining top notch Irish vegetables and salads with Italian culinary skills, the bounty from the Wicklow farm is put to great use here, to create a terrific combination at the table. Don’t expect elaborate presentation, but the cooking is good and tasty dishes such as Pollo Alla Toscana (chicken supreme with spinach, three cheeses, wrapped in Parma ham, white wine & mustard cream) or Duck Salad (garden rocket and mixed leaves with warm fresh duck, cherry tomatoes, and sweet balsamic & parmesan shavings) are spot on.
The mainly Italian wine list is extensive, including the usual suspects such as Chianti, Valpolicella and Pinot Grigio - but do consider also those from the islands like Nero D’Avola (Sicily) and the Vermentino from Sardinia. There’s a choice of wines by the glass or by the half bottle and also a wine of the month - and end even a decent choice of cocktails.