Like Chinese and Indian, Italian restaurants are usually the most ubiquitous in every city, including Dublin, and the fare is often fair to average. So does Cirillo’s, the latest Italian on the scene, offer anything better? James Kavanagh decided to find out.
Considering how popular Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisines are in most cities, generally the standard of fare on offer is pretty poor, particularly compared to what’s on offer in their respective countries of origin. In the (small) world of (good) Italian food in Dublin, you can count the decent places on one hand.
When I’m in the mood for pizza, I generally go to Paulie’s, Honest Pizza, Cotto or The Black Page. And then I rotate, which is getting a bit monotonous.
So when I started to see a few, respected foodstagrammers posting pictures of heavy-looking pizzas from a new Italian in Dublin 2, my heart fluttered.
Cirillo’s – Pizza or Pasta
Cirillo’s is on the Stephen’s Green end of Baggot Street, just beside Xico. It’s full of gorgeous golden light that’s not too bright. The décor is Mama Italiana restaurant, only a little bit chicer, and the music (a nice mix of disco) is at the perfect level.
I’m always torn when I go to a good Italian. I feel like I’m missing out on pasta if I get pizza, but then I feel robbed of pizza if I get pasta. So, myself and my date decided we’d get one pizza and one pasta to share.
To start we ordered the Tomato and Mozzarella Arancini (€8), which came with a creamy Gorgonzola Dip and Basil Oil. It was a toss-up between that and the Rabbit and Lardo Terrine, but you’re rarely disappointed with Arancini, so that won out. We also ordered two glasses of Pinot Grigio (which could have been colder).
Cirillo’s – A Sucker For ‘Gubeen’
For our shared-main, I was tasked with choosing a portion of the homemade pasta. I initially wanted the Fettuccine with Confit Duck and Parmesan Sauce (€16), but then I saw they had Fusilli with Crab and Gubeen Cream and Basil Oil (€18). I tend to gravitate towards anything that has the word ‘Gubeen’, and I was not disappointed. The pasta was perfectly cooked (a little bit of an al dente bite) and the crab and sauce was indulgent, textured and creamy.
My date went for the daily pizza special (€15), which was a Pizza Bianche (white sauce) topped with Italian fennel sausage, cherry tomato, ricotta and mozzarella. The base and crust had that chewy, smoky taste that you only get from proper pizza ovens. The sausage was a nicely spicy and complimented the creaminess of the cheeses perfectly.
After eating, I wandered downstairs where there is lots of extra seating and also the setting of the pizza oven. I wished I had been seated down there; I love watching the action in the kitchen.
We passed on dessert (Italian food is too heavy for that), so I got a coffee instead. And the coffee was good. For a starter to share, two glasses of wine, two mains and one coffee, the bill came to €56.60.