Toscana Italian restaurant is on Dublin’s Dame Street, situated directly across from Dublin Castle and only minutes away from Dublin's attractions of historical, cultural, theatrical and shopping interest. They specialize in authentic Tuscan and Mediterranean dishes with an emphasis on organic and seasonal ingredients. This isn’t just lip service either; they have several acres of organic vegetables at home in Co.Wicklow and pick their salads and vegetables in the morning on the way into work.
The restaurant is celebrating 10 years in business this year and has been given a make-over inside and out. Dark red walls are now lined with black and white images fromItalyin the nineteen fifties and sixties. They show ordinary people going about their lives; shopping, baking, cooking and having fun. They are not the 'Dolce Vita' Hollywood view, but more down to earth, and they are a great indicator of what Toscana is about; honest food, reasonable prices and friendly service.
On a Thursday night the restaurant is hopping, with a big work do taking over a big table and the rest of the room filled with friends meeting for a mid-week treat. There are three menus on offer, the Early Bird (until 6.30) offering two courses for €17.95, a Late bird with an offer of two courses and a bottle of house wine per couple for €59.95, or the A la Carte. The prices on the A la Carte are pretty good, so we decide to eat off that one. A week day and early starts mean the wine list is left untouched, but it has a good selection of wines from small producers, starting at €18, and going up to some very tempting Amarone or Barolo in the sixties.
We enjoyed a starter portion of the seafood linguine with pasta perfectly al dente, and lots of shellfish in the sauce, along with some suppli croquettes stuffed with Arborio rice and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Main courses comprised a very rustic and tasty risotto of fresh duck and wild Porcini mushrooms, which was delicious. We loved the traditional take on Saltimbocca alla Romana; thin strips of veal and fresh sage, covered in Parma ham and smoked mozzarella and served in a white wine jus. This came with some crispy outside, fluffy inside, rosemary potatoes and we were both defeated at the end.
Somehow though, the blonde managed to eat half of a very delicious chocolate cake with homemade ice cream, while I had a very good coffee. The bill came to a little over €60 which off an A la Carte menu and choosing some of the more expensive dishes, I thought was very good value. We got through a couple of bottles of sparkling water as well, but since Toscana filter and bottle their own it’s only €2 for as much as you want.
We’ve always liked Toscana, and it’s nice to see it going strong in these tough times. For honest Italian food in the city centre, coupled with lovely service, it’s hard to beat.