Ristorante Rinuccini has been run by the Cavaliere family, Antonio, Marion and their son Ricardo since 1989. They have created an intimate and inviting atmosphere: just like being in your sitting room but with a much better selection of fine Italian wines to choose from! Rinuccini is tucked neatly off the parade in the heart of Kilkenny and is a little piece of Italy everyone should experience.
There are two tables in the front and a further ten tables in the front dining room as you enter. In 2004 the Cavaliers' extended the restaurant to the rear, seating a further sixty people, in a purpose built contemporary space. As I moved through the restaurant it was just one surprise after another, finally entering this fabulous larger dining room over a fully working wine cellar, which guests can view through two large glass ‘windows’ in the floor. This marvellous cellar is home to thousands of bottles of fine Italian wines at any one time, most of which are imported directly from small producers.
As always at Ristorante Rinuccini the staff are charming and faultlessly professional at the same time. A bottle of water and a selection of homemade bread were brought to the table for us to nibble on as we browsed through the menus, which offered a choice of an early evening set menu offering two courses for €23 and three for €27.95, and of course the A la Carte.
To start Fred went with the special of seafood risotto which was beautifully presented and full of flavour from the cod, prawns and calamari, served with a few mussels for garnish. I had Antonio's ravioli al Astice, a signature dish of handmade ravioli stuffed with fresh lobster and prawns which come served in a sauce of fresh tomato, brandy and cream. Lobster is always a luxury, and the fresh pasta is light enough to let the king of crustaceans shine through. Highly recommended.
I then followed with the black sole which they kindly took off the bone. It was a beautiful piece of fish brought from Kilmore Quay that afternoon and finished in a white wine, lemon and garlic sauce. I loved the simplicity; the flavour is in the fish with a drizzle of sauce to accompany, not overshadow.
Fred decided to go with pasta and although spoilt for choice finally decided on the spaghettini con gamberoni; spaghetti tossed on the pan with Kilmore Quay prawns, garlic, basil and chilli the pasta was perfectly cooked with a generous helping of large prawns, this was a perfect choice.
With a great choice of desserts I went with Ricardo's favourite, the tortino di mele, which is a warm bramley apple tartlet, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream and smothered in a warm zabaglione cream. It was simply delicious, perfect for sharing, and cast a different spin on what we would consider apple tart.
Rinuccini is one of my favourite restaurants in the country. Each year I look forward to my annual pilgrimage, like a child anticipating Christmas. It oozes quality in all aspects; the décor, the service and the food.
Finishing the evening we had some tea, not wanting the evening to come to an end we made this last as long as you can sit over a cup of tea. Sadly it did come to an end but we vowed to be back and strongly recommend to anyone heading towards Kilkenny that this has to be top of your list of places to visit.