Situated on St. Stephens Green, a stones throw from Grafton Street, Il Posto is a busy Italian restaurant with plenty of atmosphere and some surprising and very good food. Paolo and Gerard enjoy one of the best value lunches in Dublin.
Il Posto is in a basement, but sunlight broke through the windows while we ate, so we didn't feel subterranean. The room has had a recent make-over, and now is more contemporary with a pretty cool dark ceiling, mood lighting and interesting black and white prints on the walls. The tables are well spaced and the room has an airy feel. The à la carte lunch menu has been designed for a one-plate meal, which I'd guess is what many lunchtime customers are looking for.
It's good value for money too -- no main course costs more than €12 and there are a dozen to choose from. There are four dishes that could be a starter: bruschetta, a soup, mussels marinière and meatballs. These last two can be had as small or large portions. There's also a 'market lunch' menu, which offers two courses for €16 or three for €20. Gerard decided to eat from that menu and I chose from the à la carte.
Although we weren't drinking, I did scan the wine list. It's a short list -- seven whites, eight reds and a few sparklers. It's a 100pc Italian list with some well-known wines and a few more unusual offerings, such as Dolcetto d'Ovada from the Piedmont, a wine I've only ever encountered in Ovada's Hotel Italia. Three whites and three reds are available by the bottle, the half carafe and the glass, but, despite these temptations, we stayed on the water.
Gerard started with the day's soup, a minestrone, and followed that with the oven-roasted sausages that came with a parsley and mustard risotto. I asked for a starter portion of the spaghetti Bolognese and followed that with pan-fried lamb's liver. A selection of breads arrived and we settled in to our sparkling water.
Gerard's minestrone looked very good, a deep tomato red and with plenty of different vegetables. I got a taste and liked the balance of flavours; I thought it was a well-made soup. I had the classic spag bol before me and the first thing I did was taste the sauce. It was good, properly reduced, not too much tomato and well balanced.
The main courses were good. Gerard had two huge, fat Italian-style sausages on his plate, sitting on top of the risotto. Although they looked paler than traditional Italian sausages, they were very nicely flavoured with herbs and the risotto that underpinned them was well done -- creamy and luscious.
My lamb's liver had been cooked exactly as I like it -- caramelised on the outside and pink in the middle. It came with an onion sauce and herbed potatoes, which I also enjoyed. All in all, two very good dishes, considering the price tag.
Il Posto is relaxed and friendly, and generally either one of sisters and owners Susannah and Amanda Jackson are on hand to make sure things run smoothly. In the evenings the menu is longer, and you will find a selection of authentic dishes to tempt. Il Posto is one of Dublin's better Italian restaurants, and the terrace on Stephens Green is wonderful on a sunny day.