Picasso Italian restaurant is on Vernon Avenue in Clontarf. This little community has a plethora of good places to eat and Picasso is one of them.
Picasso has been under new management since last summer, and the young duo of Claudio in the kitchen and Emilio running front of house has transformed this restaurant from a staid also ran, into the busy and buzzy spot it is today, attracting a good local following and those from farther afield who appreciate good, authentic Italian food.
The restaurant is in one of the traditional red brick buildings close to the coast road. From the outside it’s quite traditional and inside it’s a very pleasing room. Just inside the door, four brick archways form a loggia of sorts, and they lead to dining areas to left and right, and straight ahead is the staircase to the upstairs dining area.
There is lots of exposed brickwork, and there’s a little fishpond in front of the fireplace. The ceiling is wooden panelled and there is a nice antique border around the top of the walls.
The menu offers good value, with a value menu running most evening offering two courses for €20, and an A la Carte, which is well priced with starters around the €8 mark, and mains priced from the mid teens to mid twenties.
The menu features al you would expect in an Italian restaurant and is prefaced with a page of chef’s specials, and it was from here we ordered. While we made up out mind, we had some good homemade bread, and a selection of crostini, with cheese and tomato, Parma ham and sautéed mushrooms and smoked salmon on toasted breads getting us off to a fine start.
Starters of sautéed chicken livers with shallots and a Barolo jus on toast were delicious with great depth of flavour, while a tower of crab claws were light and simply cooked in garlic butter.
Main courses were equally good; a rack of lamb came with perfectly crispy potatoes in rosemary, and the juice was thick and delicious gravy. A special risotto of scallops with chorizo was perfectly flavoured, and the main taste was from the sweet delicate scallops and not the chorizo, which just added a depth in the background.
We managed a twice scrumptious cooked chocolate fondant, and left into the cold December evening two happy campers indeed. Picasso is a fine neighbourhood restaurant, and it’s worth a visit by more faraway southside or Howth neighbours looking for authentic Italian fare.