Hidden on Bachelors Walk 13a on the North Quay of the river Liffey, between the Ha’penny Bridge and O’Connell bridge lies Terra Madre - Dublin’s secret authentic Italian.
It is not fancy, it is not pretty, it looks weird (some might say charming) but it’s good. It embodies everything the Italian kitchen stands for, and there is just one super star: the food. Terra Madre reminds you of that little Ostaria just around the conrner of the downtown in an Italian city.
Appetizers arrive almost immediately when we fought ourselves in our chairs (it is very small indeed): crusty Italian bread, lightly toasted with olive oil and funghi porcini. Simple, but oh so tasty.
The menu itself translates the soul of Terra Madre and is built like any Italian family dinner would be: antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti, e dolce. Today it has rabbit ragu, pheasant ragu, boar ravioli and much more locally Italian sourced dishes. Specials seem to be inspired by the mood of the day (today: ravioli with braised beef and butter sauce).
The wine list is special, very diverse and unusual. It has some wines that are hard to find in Dublin, and there is no real line in it. We go for a Pinot Bianco from Alto Aldige (Trentino, South Tyrol). It is extremely floral and has some minerals in it.
For the antipasti we selected 2 dishes: 4 types of bruschetta and bresaola (cured meat). The bruschetta arrive on lightly toasted Italian bread topped with salami, lardo, capers and the last one with melted pecorino cheese (made from cheese milk). The lardo on the bruschetta is extremely tasty and soft that it melts in your mouth - it is typically cured for months with garlic and rosemary. The bresaola is simple but fresh and filled with celery plus a touch of mayonnaise.
The primi piatti exists of ravioli filled with braised beef and butter sauce plus a ragu di bolognese from pork meat. The star is the ragu di bolognese. It is originally from Bologna and it should be served with a tagliatelle pasta. The sauce is so rich and sweet from the fact it simmered for hours and the pork meat gives it depth, combine that with the delicate taste of Italian herbs. When there is just a little bit of sauce left on the plate, the waiter brings some bread to finish everything off and advises us that this is actually the best part….
For secondi piatti we shared the lenticchie and cotechino di modena. Lentils from Umbria with pork sausage from Modena. The lentils were organic and typically Italian. The sausage went very well with the texture of the lentils. The sweet flavour of the pork was completely absorbed in the lentils and this unusual dish was simple but delicious.
For dolce (dessert) we shared a panna cotta and a coffee chocolate mousse. The panna cotta was what you expected it to be and the chocolate coffee mousse was creamy, bitter, sweet and rich of flavour.
If you are okay with the casual interior, if you don’t expect white tablecloths or anything fancy, if you can handle different plates per person and if you are looking for authentic Italian cooking: then Terra Madre is your place to be. It embodies what Italian cooking is about and it is worth the search.
Review by Daan Suijlen.