Bar Italia Italian restaurant is on the banks of the life, just at the Millennium Bridge and across from Temple Bar. Owner David Izzo spent years as part of the Dunne and Crescenzi family, but now Bar Italia is his baby, and the food and service are as authentically Italian as possible.
The young waiting staff are all Italian and that's the language you'll hear them use to one another. Italian music plays on the stereo, the coffee machine hisses steam and makes that inimitable noise when steaming the milk for cappuccinos. A blackboard lists the specials of the day, and if you need more convincing of the authenticity you’ll find the names more than a little reassuring, as they too are mostly in Italian.
Our dear colleague Paolo was a fan, and here is a snippet of his review from a decade ago;
"Antipasto include really good prosciutto, mortadella, salami, mild provolone, artichoke hearts, cubes of mozzarella and olives. If your appetite was anything less than strong, you could have quit after this. But we went on; a pasta of the day for Isabella, which was tagliatelle with a salmon sauce, gnocchi alla Sorrentina for me and salad for Susie. These were all dishes that reeked of the Italic shores; the tastes were genuinely authentic. I've been unhappy more than once with the quality of ingredients in Ireland that pass themselves off here as Italian, but in the Bar Italia the ingredients must have been right because the tastes were right."
Fast forward a decade and a Christmas shopping expatiation becomes an early dinner. Me and the food scientist daughter pop in and want a taste of Italy. The antipasti sound wonderful, and so it is with this I start, while Abigail fancies some of the calamari with a spicy tomato dip. The meats and cheese are as good as Paolo said and the calamari is soft and tender, with a crispy coating. The slightly hot tomato dip is excellent and the glass of Pinot Grigio Abi has with it is crisp and light.
Main courses were both from the sea. Abi spied the special of homemade ravioli, stuffed with prawn and lobster served with a scampi sauce. Delicious little pillows of pasta came dotted with more prawns, and the thick scampi cream had a strength and sharpness that worked perfectly with the sweet flesh in the ravioli.
I found it hard to pass the spaghetti con frutti di mare. Perfectly al dente pasta covered with fresh Doran’s clams, mussels, king prawns, squid, chilli flakes and cherry tomatoes was beautifully flavoured.
We managed to find some room in the special dessert tummy for a homemade tiramisu. This was actually incredible. Impossibly light, but with a punchy flavour and topped with an abundance of chocolate powder, it was sinfully delicious, and has to be the best I have ever had, here or in Italy. Tea and good coffee finished us off and we ventured out into the cold two very happy diners.
Authentic, friendly with perfectly judged flavours, and carefully sourced ingredients, Bar Italia is one for the best Italian restaurants in Ireland. The tiramisu on the other hand is simply out of this world. Make sure you leave room for it.