Bistro Bianconi has been a landmark in Sligo since it opened in 1993, when it was situated on O’Connell Street. It has been a Sligo stalwart since then, attracting a steady following by locals and visitors alike. Due to unforeseen circumstances it had to relocate last year to Tobergal Lane; this seemed like a disaster to both patrons and management, but now Tobergal Lane has become the Italian Quarter, and is home to A Casa Mia, Bistro Bianconi and Gulliver’s, and they are going form strength to strength.
The décor within the bistro is shabby chic, with a painted grey floor, red ceiling and stonewash white blocks acting as dividers between the main eating area and a couple of smaller areas which are ideal for groups. The walls are covered with hand painted murals, lamps and lanterns are carefully positioned around the restaurant creating a relaxed feel. Stacked wine boxes under the counters continue to paint the picture of a bustling, busy area. The centre of the restaurant has a large, open pizza oven which does a roaring trade both with diners and as carry out. The atmosphere in the Bistro is one of total authenticity, it carries you out of Sligo and off to Italy, allowing you to momentarily leave all thoughts of home aside and just enjoy the space.
We sat alongside the windows with a great view of the action in the lane. With a jug of iced water, marinated olives and a basket of bread brought to the table we started to study the menu. It is divided between Antipasti, insalata, pasta, carne & pesce, and a large selection of pizza. Starters range anywhere from €4.75 for their soup of the day (tomato & basil the evening we visited) to €8.55 for either a selection of cured & smoked meats served with roast red pepper relish and bread or a crusty baguette topped with homemade pesto, tomato paste and creamed feta cheese.
Salads can be ordered as a starter or a main, with classics like Caprese, Greek and Caesar. Main course start at €14.45 for lasagne, Bolognese or cannelloni to €19.95 while the meat choices are various styles of steak priced at €26.95, or for an added €5.00 you can have prawns on the side. Specials of the day are displayed on the boards plus your waiter will run through them on introduction. With over 27 choices of pizza there is everything you can imagine and more and all priced around €13 for a 9” to €17 for a 12”
The wine list was extensive and the vast selection is from Italy and range in price between €19.95 for Pinot Grigio to €45.95 for Barolo. We went with the Lamberti Pinot Grigio for €26.95, a light and fresh choice which complemented our dishes.
I started with the Mediterranean king prawns; pan fried in chilli and garlic butter, they were perfectly cooked and served on a bed of leaves, and the sauce provided perfect mopping up opportunities with the crusty bread. Fred went with the breaded jalapeno peppers which were stuffed with cream cheese and served on a bed of rocket with sweet chilli sauce on the side; they were hot as he’d hoped and certainly didn’t disappoint.
To follow I went with classic chicken Fiorentina; chicken sautéed in white wine and cream, with spinach, mushrooms and served with penne with parmesan shavings, it was a huge portion, but very tasty. Himself an extra spicy version of the penne al Arribiatta with prawns, which he thoroughly enjoyed it and was very impressed with the amount of prawns in the dish; at €15.95 it was well priced.
Desserts on offer were raspberry and white chocolate cheese cake, tiramisu or profiteroles. With hubby really enjoying his cheeses and my sweet tooth we finished with the cheese plate and fruit of the forest meringue, and a cappuccino for him and a latte for me. Bistro Bianconi has come back bigger and bolder, a force to be reckoned with in Sligo.
**Bianconi have a collect or deliver menu available as well, check the website link above for details.