Did you know that millions of people in Italy eat Italian food every day? It’s true. So, I don’t find it odd or feel the need to justify in any way the fact that Bill and I have found ourselves partaking of the pasta several times over the last few weeks. This is completely normal. It is to be encouraged. In fact, you should do it.
Terra Madre is a new Italian restaurant down some stairs on Bachelor’s Walk on the quays. I don’t know exactly how new it is, but it’s new enough that I learned about it on Twitter. Terra Madre is tiny. I counted seven tables. I saw several parties turned away on the recent Saturday while enjoying an early dinner. The menu at Terra Madre is small, with just a few starters, slightly larger specialty plates and mains. Two wines. Two desserts. A tiny restaurant with a small menu has to be selective and committed. No faffing about.
Our starters were simple dishes which highlighted the main ingredient: Crostini with lardo, and bresaola (dried beef) wrapped around Parmesan and celery served on a bed of rocket. Stuff you could make at home. If you were lucky enough to have lardo and bresaola.
For mains I got the pasta with wild boar ragu, and Bill got pasta with a rabbit sauce. (Fact: Bill will almost always choose the rabbit dish when one is on the menu.) The rabbit pasta in particular was delish with a nice spice. I imagine you could be served either of these dishes in an Italian kitchen and be very happy and feel that you are truly part of a family. Add in an apple tart and a cake made with amaretti biscuits (that had the interesting texture of Mexican flan), a bottle of red wine and two espressos and you’ll be nicely fed. All for €70.00.
I had to call upon the twitterverse for Terra Madre’s phone number, so I’ll save you a few clicks: 01-8735300.
Dunne and Crescenzi
On the other end of the spectrum, Dunne and Crescenzi has been open in Dublin for over a decade, has perhaps seven times seven tables and the menu spans several pages. It definitely isn’t a Twitter secret as it was buzzing when we stopped by for lunch yesterday. Even though the menu is large, it seems grounded. We chose an antipasti of roasted aubergine, olives, artichoke hearts, tomato/garlic salad, marinated mushrooms and Tuscan beans. Lots of great flavors to wake up the taste buds. And I adore borlotti and cannellini beans!
Bill chose a special–orecchiette with broccoli cream sauce and sausage , and I had linguini with walnut pesto, anchovies and pecorino. The orecchiette was very broccoli-forward with a succulent fresh sausage. The nuts and anchovies in the linguini provided that savory kick that kept me coming back bite after bite. Both pasta dishes were rich tasting but not overwhelming. Comfort food for a cold day.
With two glasses of house red and two espressos (very reasonable for Dublin at €1.50 each), our bill was around €50.00.
I expect to return to this Dublin institution, if only to try out the Mozzarella bar.
Cafe Tiesan is very near my office, and is one of my favorite lunch spots. Tiesan isn’t wholly Italian, but it does have Italian leanings, and has recently started serving lasagne made with homemade noodles on Thursdays. The fresh noodles make a tender lasagne, and I liked the less tomatoey version of this beloved dish. Other dishes I can recommend at Tiesan are as follows: aubergine sandwich, lentil burger, eggs Florentine, Irish breakfast, and ham and cheese omelette (fantastic!). Yes, that’s everything I’ve ever tried there. In the sunnier months they serve an evening apperitivo menu with a terrific cured meat platter and bruschetta.
Have you heard that popping into the George Bernard Shaw during the day when the Coffee ToGetHer cafe is open is like stepping into Italy? Well, it’s true. The Italian staff is lively, serving up panini and lamb skewers and delicious coffee. And cannoli available for impulse purchase at the till.
Carluccio’s on Dawson Street has been our Go To dinner spot for many years. It may be a chain, but it’s a chain started by an Italian dude named Antonio, and their caponata is one of my absolutely favorite things. They always have something we need to buy in the shop as well.