Monday, March 17, 2008

Caffè Carluccio's

Little sis and I decided to check out Carluccio's for our dinner last night. I popped in a few weeks ago to pick up some bits in the deli section and the queue was out the door. We stuck our heads in on our way down Dawson St. yesterday and seeing the absence of a queue we hopped straight in. The fact that it was only half five might have helped - by the time we were leaving it was close on seven and there were at least a dozen people in the queue. If you're going it might be best to pick an early hour or be prepared to wait. It's definitely worth waiting for!

Those of you curious about the menu can take a look
here. We started with a selection of Italian breads dubbed the 'savoury bread tin' on the menu, grissini (bread sticks) and foccacia were good but we both felt the slice of brown walnut bread was slightly misplaced. It doesn't really work being dipped in olive oil like the others. For starter I had the Calamari which had only the barest coating of batter and were all the better for it, a simple salad and squeeze of lemon was all that was needed in accompaniment. Little sis had the Arancini di Riso Sicilian - deep-fried rice balls with ragù in one ball and mozzarella in the other with a red pepper sauce. They made wonderful comfort food and would make a good way of using up leftover risotto although the sauce would have been better if it had been slightly warmer. For main I opted for the Penne Giardiniera, described as "our own Pugliese penne with courgette, chilli and deep-fried spinach balls with parmesan and garlic". The concept of the deep-fried spinach balls intrigued me but they were good, adding a new texture to a dish that would otherwise be very soft. It was also nice to see something outside the pesto/carbonara/bolognese on an Italian menu. Little sis tends to be a picky eater but she went for the Penne alla Luganica. This was penne smothered in a rich tomato and spicy sausage sauce. The spices were subtle rather than overt and the texture was nicely smooth and creamy, leading to a dish that both she and I highly enjoyed. After this lot we were stufffed and wouldn't have been able to do justice to dessert. It felt it was very good value, with three San Pelligrinos the total bill was €51.25.

However we on our way out we picked up two chocolate slices from the deli and tucked into them about two hours later. They were nice but nothing spectacular, a little on the sweet side for both myself and Little sis. In retrospect they were only €2.50 and there was also a chocolate torte for €4.50 - perhaps the price differential speaks of the amount of good chocolate needed.

P.S. The Doc did remark this morning that I reeked of garlic, so maybe if you are going to pay Carluccio's a visit it would be best to bring the one you love with you!


Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

oooooooooooooooooo am so glad you did a review! I've been getting my coffee in Carluccio's every morning since they opened now and it's just the best latte napoli in the area without a doubt.

Wanted to go for lunch last week but it was a 20 minute wait so went to Fitzers instead and while it was nice it wasn't yummy Italian. Am hoping to go for lunch for my birthday with himself next month

Will be purchasing some yummy deli stuff before then come payday next week = WOOHOO

And didn't realise you were in Dublin, we should meet up at some stage to talk food et al

jen said...

I walked past Carluccio's when they were setting up and made a mental note to come back, then promptly forgot about it! Brain like a sieve!

Have been to one of the cafes in London a few times and always enjoyed it. Had the best chicken risotto there... Good memories - will have to check out the Dublin one.

Kate said...

Jen: I'd love to hear your view on Carluccio's as it got a terrible review in the Tribune magazine at the weekend.

Rachel: Oh you lucky thing - I have tea in the mornings as the coffee in work is indistinguishable from mud!!

I'm from Wexford but I've been in Dublin 7 years now. I guess I should stop calling Wexford "home"!! I'd love to meet up and have a chat some time.

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

I've heard some bad stuff about Carluccio's alright since you originallty posted, a few people from work went over and they were not impressed AT ALL!!! The coffee is sill pretty good though!!!

Might pick a different venue for my birthday lunch in April so!

And wouldl love to meet up Kate, would be lovely to chat to someone as passionate about food as me as no one ever seems to have as much enthusiasm and love as me for food!!! It's a date girl!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

As a regular visitor to Carluccio's (in London), I can vouch for their wonderful penne giardiniera. Sounds like you had a fab time!