Caffe Italiano is an owner run restaurant on Crow Street that has grown over the last three years from a small coffee shop into a full service restaurant that serves authentic Italian food throughout the day, and in the evenings ups the ante with some great cooking and live music on Friday and Saturdays.
Luca De Marzio opened his original little cafe in the Crow Street bazaar, amongst the clothes and vintage shops, and it is a testament to his singular vision and passion that the Caffe Italiano has grown to take over the whole space and into upstairs and can now seat up to fifty diners.
The food has always been unapologetically Italian; the best of Italian products are imported while fresh Irish produce is used when appropriate and the meats are of course Irish. The decor is vibrant and fun, and the air is casual and relaxed. The breads are excellent and it’s a regular stopping off point for a loaf of their fine Italian bread and a coffee.
We recently had a wonderful lunch with international coach and speaker Judymay Murphy, who is an extremely travelled woman who is careful about where and what she eats, and is a vegetarian, so Luca’s homemade food and on the spot vegetarian options seemed like a good idea.
We started with a fresh Buffalo mozzarella salad with roast and pickled peppers for Judymay. The creamy sphere oozed a creamy centre when cut, and the peppers had been seasoned and had some flavour, something she said is surprisingly hard to find. I on the other hand was a committed carnivore, and some salame Finocchiona with wild fennel which was sliced in front of me on the hand driven slicer, an antique imported from Italy for this purpose. It also has the added advantage of adding some theatre and a scene I can say I have never seen. The meat was wafer thin and full of flavour and I enjoyed it immensely.
Main courses brought Judymay Melanzana alla Parmigiana, an Italian classic of oven baked aubergine served with tomato sauce and parmesan. Judymay finished a happy little super coach, while my tagliatelle with Italian sausage and tomato was perfectly al dente, the sauce rich and flavoursome and the sausage spicy and delicious.
We finished with an herbal tea and a good coffee, and headed off into the wet Dublin afternoon, vowing to come back again for dinner, to try more of the menu, and enjoy some music of a weekend.