Marjorie Eisenach shares her experiences with all things Italian during her international travels.
We had an outstanding lunch at Dunne and Crescenzi in the heart of Dublin, a lively restaurant located close to Trinity College. It’s situated in a former locksmith shop which is chocked full from floor to ceiling with top notch wines from all areas of Italy. Initially we entered into the deli portion of the complex but soon realized that we wanted to stay for a sit down meal in the adjacent rooms.
When the owners, husband and wife team, Stefano Crescenzi and Eileen Dunne, moved to Ireland in 1995, they brought their love and knowledge of Italian food and wine with them. Stefano said that he wanted to bring the tastes of Italy to Ireland in order to properly represent the cuisine of his homeland. At the time, Italian food in Ireland was not known for fresh ingredients, being more of a caricature of Italian cuisine than the authentic fare that they were eager to serve.
What they created is Italian dining at its finest, a testament to the duo’s intense passion for fresh ingredients and seasonal produce. Initially, they set-up a small enoteca,or wine bar, which provided the Irish public their first access to quality Italian meats, cheeses, olive oils and Italian wine. Stefano cooked while Eileen served customers.
Demand soon outstripped supply and the couple realized that they would need a larger place in order to keep up with the increasing number of interested diners. So in 1999, Dunne and Crescenzi on South Frederick Street opened for business. This is where my husband and I had our outstanding lunch. I ordered lasagna and he had spaghetti con vongole, two classic, traditional Italian dishes. Mine clearly was the winner as the handmade lasagna noodles were served in one of the best red meat sauces that I have ever tasted. The quality of the mozzarella used was exquisite. It was excellent, or as the Italians say, ottimo. My husband’s pasta had a bit too much lemon added according to his taste buds, but the pasta was cooked al dente and was full of fresh clams.
We went back two days later to have the lasagna a second time and also tried the special of the day, raviolacci con carciofi, large ravioli stuffed with artichokes, a tasty dish served with a pecorino dolce sauce.
We also sampled a plate of bruschette while we waited for our main dish. The toasted flat bread pieces were piled high with roasted red and yellow peppers, and were laced with artisanal olive oil and chopped fresh tomatoes and basil.
One of the key components of this magnificent lunch was the quality of the wine that we ordered by the glass. My husband ordered a Dolcetto d’Alba and I selected a wine from Puglia, the house Levro, which was outstanding. Not dry, not sweet, just the perfect accompaniment for a meat sauce.
Dunne and Crescenzi have clearly achieved their goal of providing the quintessential, authentic Italian fare that they were eager to share and serve.
Marjorie helps American and British travelers build their Italian language skills and learn about Italian culture, sites and events so they can get the most out of their time spent in the country. Visit www.italyanditalian.com to get in touch with her!