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Restaurant Review - Best Italian Restaurants

Restaurant Review - Best Italian Restaurants

Tuesday 05 April 2016

Who can forget the romantic scene in Disney’s Lady and The Tramp when the doggie duo share a string of spaghetti as the waiter and chef played the mandolin and squeeze box singing Bella Notte. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Italian restaurants and here are some of the best.

Ristorante Rinuccini

In the shadow of Kilkenny Castle, for over 25 years, the Cavaliere family have operated what is probably the finest Italian restaurant in Ireland. Antonio Cavaliere’s silky ravioli al Gorgonzola e noci is just a breath of heaven. Pick your wine from their amazing wine cellar which is visible through glass floor panels in the upper dining area.


Part of John Farrell’s Super Miss Sue Italianate emporium, Luna, in the bowels of Drury Street Carpark, is a nod to 1950’s American Italian restaurants with tux attired waiters, Campari bar and contemporary Italian food. The hottest joint in town with the movers and shakers. Go for it with crustacei e mollusco al vapore.


Opened on Dublin’s Dame Street in 1963, Nico’s has been owned by Emilio Cirillo since 1977, who, at the time, was working in the famous Bernardo’s on Lincoln Place. With a plush Art Deco makeover in 2008, uniformed waiters serve good value pasta, seafood and veal. Zabaglione al Marsala is a must.

Dunne & Crescenzi

In the 90s, Eileen Dunne and Stefano Crescenzi’s first little enotteca, serving just antipasti plates, changed the face of casual Italian in Dublin. The chattering classes loved it so much that they now have branches in South Frederick Street, Sandymount, Dundrum, and Kildare Village.

San Lorenzo’s

Temple Garner’s hugely popular New York style modern Italian restaurant on George’s Street not only does great grub and cocktails but the hottest weekend brunch in the city.
Osteria Lucio
The friendship between Michelin-starred Ross Lewis of Chapter One and restaurateur Luciano Tona led to Osteria Lucio in the old Malting Tower on Grand Canal Quay. Get tucked in under the DART line and chow down on Kilkenny rose veal and Madeira jus.

The Unicorn by Fiorentina

The legendary Unicorn is now owned by Kristan Burness, who also has the super Fiorentina facing City Hall. Go for the feather light calamari fritti with Amalfi lemon – on the terrazzo!

I Monelli

Giano di Santis, Ivano Addabbo and the team have moved from Rathgar to Portobello to what was originally Thornton’s and subsequently Nonna Valentina. Think regional dishes such as Capesante al Martini – pan fried scallops with Martini Bianco. Try their Piemontese Tasting Menu too.


Stunningly set in the big high-ceilinged contemporary front rooms of the Victorian built Haddington Hotel on Dun Laoghaire seafront, the food is as stylish as the set up. The rigatoni con sugo di salsiccia is ace. Bag a window seat – if you can!


Deep in the heart of the Burren’s Ballyvaughan Village, in a wonderfully atmospheric setting, is L’Arco doing delicious Italian food. As well as antipasti, carne et pesce, they have gluten-free pasta.

Cucina Italiana

Popular with local Italophiles, this chic little Italian restaurant is tucked away up a side street in Killarney. Expect to hear lots of American accents. Tel: (064) 662-6575


Basilico in Oranmore, Co.Galway, was accredited by Eccelenze Italiane 2016 as providing a real Italian food experience. Try the tagliolini al granchio – homemade pasta with Connemara hand- picked crab meat, shaved fennel, chilli, capers.

Il Vicolo

Gerry McMahon and Aoife Flaherty’s wine bar majors in Venetian cicchetti along the lines of London’s super successful Polpo (best branch is still Beak Street behind Liberty’s). Think Polpette –pork and beef meatballs – rabbit tortellini, truffle butter and sage.


Toscana is hugely popular for good reliable Italian pizzas and pastas on Dun Laoghaire seafront. They have their own vegetable gardens in Co. Wicklow which also supplies their sister restaurant in Dame Street. The best table is in the upstairs bay window!


Spaghetti all’Aragosta – lobster spaghetti – is one of Chef Giancarlo Anselmi’s delicious dishes in the very popular Talavera Restaurant at the Radisson St. Helen’s Hotel on the Stillorgan Road.

First Published in The Sunday Independent