Cucina Italiana is down a little lane in the heart of Killarney, opposite the Killarney Park Hotel. From outside it's stylish with clean lines and almost unassuming. Inside it’s a contemporary space, split over two levels, with a winding staircase bringing you upstairs. There are only three tables downstairs and no more than ten tables upstairs, and the minimalistic décor creates an ambience of style and sophistication. Comfortable chairs, subdued lighting and good quality linens and silverware create a nice atmosphere.
The menu is split over two pages, is very much designed by owner Martello’s personal style of cooking, and changes two or three times a year. To begin you can choose between small appetizers and then starters. All the dishes are listed in Italian, with English descriptions, and in the interest of clarity, I’ll give both.
To start I enjoyed an ‘insalata di asparagi con polpa di granchio’, which was a delicious crab meat salad served on rocket and drizzled with olive oil and lemon. My husband opted for the ‘zuppa vellutata di piselli e vongole’ – creamy pea soup with pancetta and finished with clams, while our friend had ‘fritturina di calamari con salsa al limone’, which was freshly flash fried squid with a homemade mayonnaise. Three excellent starters got us off to a flying start.
The main courses were divided between pasta and rice, meat and fish, d there is a pretty good vegetarian menu included as well. This time I chose the ‘Richezza di mare’ which had a selection of char grilled king prawns, langoustine and other shell fish as well as a fillet of monkfish served on salad, in effect their version of a seafood platter, which was perfectly cooked, light and delicious.
Hubby had the ‘fantasia di carne con scottato di broccoletti’ which was the meat version of my own, and it included char-grilled lamb cutlets, chicken and rib eye served with a wonderful potato soufflé and our friend tried the ‘paccheri di Gragnano con gamberi’ – homemade pasta filled with prawns and squid in a cherry tomato sauce.
All three dishes were superb, with little to choose between them in terms of quality and flavour. Everything was prepared to perfection with just the right amounts and presentation was flawless.
The wine list was predominantly Italian, with wines listed from their regions, as I feel they should be. There is a selection by the glass for about €7.00; half bottles are priced around €20.00 and full bottles ranged from €24-42.00. There was a small selection from around the world and also a small selection of bottled beer. We chose a bottle of Pinot Grigio from Sortosele Santi priced at €29.00. It was a fruity, very palatable choice and went well with our meal.
Having thoroughly enjoyed dinner at Cucina Italiana we decided to finish with coffee’s as opposed to desserts. Everything about the evening was perfect; this is a high end Italian restaurant serving excellent food in lovely surroundings.