Tagged in: italian

Castello Bruno, a gem in Castleknock, Dublin 15

castleburno
Not a million miles away from central Dublin this family restaurant on the Main Street of Castleknock village was introduced to me my good friend Joe Griffin who lives a medium stones throw away in Dunboyne.

We called in for lunch in-between meetings at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in Brunswick Street North and Castleknock College; as one does!

It has a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere and a staff to match. I had intended to have a snack but the menu was far to appetizing and, on top of that, they were offering Chicken Puttanesca, breast of chicken in a piquant sauce containing chilli and anchovies (I’m a sucker for anything containing anchovies). We both chose this and added a portion of fries between us to accompany it. In for a penny in for a pound we rounded off with an excellent Tiramisu and coffees. Add in a bottle of Peroni and the bill was €53.60 – great value for money as well.

 

L’OFFICINA, DUNDRUM TOWN CENTRE, DUBLIN

Stopped off in Dundrum Town Centre for lunch after a quick recce of the flood damage at the Mill Theatre.

Sitting outside under a parasol at the side of the pool on a sunny afternoon after a three hour drive from west Cork seemed a good move and we were rewarded with some great service by our Italian waiter.

I ordered a Fagioli salsicci, a sort of bean and tomato stew with fragrant herbed sausages sliced into it, accompanied by crusty bread. Definitely to die for.  Josephine chose the Gourmet Cheese and Ham sandwich with onion relish. Unfortunately whilst the cheese, ham and relish was unsurpassable the roll had been put under the grill and proved to be somewhat too crisp in places!

In the absence of a Pinot Grigio the waiter suggested the Falanghina which proved to be another worthwhile discovery.  Will be on my buying list if I can find somewhere that stocks it.

Against our better judgement we were talked into a sweet! Josephine got the last of the “House Torte”, really a mixed fruit tart with cream, and I had the pear variation and a coffee. All extremely palatable

All in all a pleasant lunch and, at €42  excluding tip, good value.

Scalini, 85 Botanic Avenue, Belfast

First time we have tried Scalini’s Italian restaurant on Botanic Avenue.  They do not accept bookings for parties under 8 but as this was a pre theatre meal we arrived at 6 to find plenty of room.  Beware that you may have to climb a few staircases to your table as they are set out on a number of floors. The service is friendly and efficient, they whisked our coats away which is something that is sadly lacking in a lot of restaurants. Having seated us and provided menus we were not immediately hassled to give in our order.  We were accompanied by Linden and Amy and all four of us settled on the pasta as main course.  My Fusili Milanesi, smoked bacon, chilli, mushrooms and peas was not to be faulted and as I got a share of Linden’s Carbonara and Josephine’s meatballs I can also vouch for the standard of these dishes.  Amy did not give me a chance at her Linguini Pescatore, but as the plate was bare except for mussel shells we can take it that it met with similar approval.  The house red is an Italian Shiraz which goes very well with pasta and is a snip at £13.45.

Of course we couldn’t pass up the sweet menu. Try the Affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice with biscotti served with a shot of expresso and the same of Amaretto on the side. Moorish.

Lovely meal well served and all in including wine £69.50 – who could ask for anything more.

La Gondola, 373 Antrim Road, Glengormley

What does one do to cheer onself up on a wet Sunday evening?  Having been to La Gondola in the Olivia Centre, Glengormley, we now have the answer.  It has taken us 7 months to get round to trying this Italian restaurant and I am wondering why.

It does not try to emulate some of the better known Italian restaurants around Belfast city but it is reminiscent of many family Ristorante in urban Italy.

We were welcomed by the waiter, I will get his name next time, and given the menus and a complimentary slice of pizza.  There is not a wine list; they keep one red, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one Italian white and one Italian rosé.  Naturally we settled for the red.  You can bring your own at £3.00 for corkage.

The menu is set out Italian style and is kept simple, there are a good selection of starters or a mixed Antipasto. Pasta, chicken or sirloin mains and a selection of tagliatelli dishes. The pizza menu is separate. There is also a Continental Gourmet section.

This had Beef Carpaccio as an option.  I do not normally have a starter but who can resist raw slivers of beef marinaded in lemon with parmesan and crushed black peppercorns? Well not me anyway.

Josephine did side step and just settled for a main of  breast of chicken in a porcini sauce (special wild mushrooms with brandy and cream).  I got a taste of the sauce and it was delicious to say the least.

My main was Tagliatelli Arribiata, smoked bacon and piquant chilli and tomato sauce. I did not leave any!

Luigi, the chef and owner, came and chatted in a mixture of Italian and English but I will not pretend to have understood much of the Italian.  It is one language with which I have never managed to become conversant.

One of the waitresses unfairly slipped a Dolce Menu next to me, but I managed to put off ordering for at least five minutes! There were Crêpes Comedie Francais, which turned out to be two crêpes wrapped around vanilla ice cream and smothered in orange and brandy sauce. Sort of suzette with attitude.

There is no grappa on the drinks menu  but, seeing as it prides itself on being authentic Italian, I was sure that if the question were asked it would be forthcoming.  Right again; and it went down really well with the coffee.

The chef sent us a lemon liquer over and, having chatted him up we got an invite to his table for Monday night when they are holding a Salsa demonstration.

This is a welcome addition to the myriad of Chinise and Indian restaurants in the area.  One hopes it will be supported enough to remain in business.

Antico Martini, Campo San Fantin, Venice


We were recommended to eat at the Antico Martini by the concierge at the Hotel Kette, it being less than a stone’s throw across the bridge from the entrance.  In better weather it must be stunning, but even in the rain the ambience is not to be faulted.  The staff collected our umbrellas, waterproofs and hat and ushered us to a table under the rainproof awning looking out on to the small square which still sported a smattering of tourists braving the weather.

The menu and wine list were duly provided together with a complimentary hors d’ouvre in the shape of a miniature kilner jar containing a parfait of basil sauce and a whole prawn.  Exquisite!

Helen and Josephine chose the giant scampi with courgette; I opted for the tagliatelli with prawn and wild mushrooms whilst Trevor decided on the veal. Helen chose a glass of rosé and the rest of us shared a bottle of the local red, Rosso del Veronese, which proved to be eminently drinkable.

You are probably fed up with me using superlatives but, if you are eating in Venice, this is a restaurant not to be missed. The scampi would have been lobsters in another life, the tagliatelli sauce was as delicate as (good taste leaves me speechless) whilst Trevor’s veal melted in the mouth.  I speak from firsthand knowledge.

Somebody slipped in the sweet menu and, having gone a whole day with very little sustenance, we were caught in another trap.  The girls settled for the fruit tart and the boys for the baked crepes stuffed with vanilla sauce (and raspberries and blackcurrants). I got a share of Trevor’s as well!

We (Trevor and I) decided on a coffee and liqueur to end the experience.  The grappa is a must, although Trevor disagrees on this and settled for Benedictine!

The price tag of €326, including 14% service, reflected the quality of  both the cuisine and the service so we have no complaints.

The Food Loft, Central Store, Chidlom, Bangkok

It is the first time I have come across an eatery which offers about 8 individual country based service counters all cooking their various menus to order. This is in addition to the bar and sweets areas.
Located on the 7th floor of the Central Department Stores building in Chidong; on entering one is given a card on which you can purchase food/drinks up to the value of 1000bht (currently around £20). All bags bigger than handbags have to be checked in. Find yourself a table and ask one of the numerous waiters to put an occupied sign on it. You choose your starters or whatever at one of the stands where your card is scanned and you are given a receipt. Return to the table and give it to a passing waiter who will then collect it when ready. The process is repeated for each course you fancy from whichever country you fancy, Thai, Korean, Italian, Greek, Chinese etc. etc. If you run over your limit, (hard to do) you must pay the card and get a new one. No chance of holding two cards. Nor can you get out without it!!
The food is great, well prepared and true to type. The wines and beers are good and not expensive. A really great place to eat.