Friday 16 November 2018

One of Ireland's best-known food and wine critics Paolo Tullio passes away

Paolo Tullio, photographed at his home in Annamoe, Co. Wicklow.
Paolo Tullio, photographed at his home in Annamoe, Co. Wicklow.

Adam Cullen

Tributes have been paid to writer, Irish Independent restaurant critic and Michelin star-winning chef Paolo Tullio.

The Italian-born critic died yesterday evening aged 65 after a long illness.

He spent his formative years in the UK and the family moved to Ireland in 1968, when he was 18, to open restaurants here.

He studied English and philosophy at Trinity College and met some of his closest friends there, including future U2 manager Paul McGuinness and Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan.

Paolo Tullio. Photo: Dave Meehan
Paolo Tullio. Photo: Dave Meehan

It was at TCD where he would meet his wife Susan Morley. The couple divorced in 2004. He was a father to two children - Rocco and Isabella.

After his study, he held a number of varied jobs, working as a clinical psychologist in St Brendan's Hospital, an interpreter and as a cattle-agent.

But it was in Co Wicklow, a far cry from his family's Lazio homeland in Italy, that he would strike his biggest success.

In 1977, he established Armstrong's Barn, serving food in a traditional Irish style.

It was here in the tiny village of Annamoe that he would go on to win a Michelin star before later closing the doors in 1988.

He also had a number of small roles in films, including playing the part of an Italian ice-cream seller in pal Neil Jordan's film 'The Butcher Boy' and in films by renowned director John Boorman, such as 'The Tailor of Panama' and 'The Tiger's Tail'.

The popular restaurant critic with the Irish Independent's 'Weekend' magazine had reinvented himself countless times.

INM Group Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae said: "Paolo was so widely respected and loved by television audiences and our readers alike.

"At the Irish Independent, his loss is tremendous. Paolo was associated intrinsically with 'Weekend' magazine and readers loved him.

"On behalf of all on the newspaper and at INM as a group, we express our deepest condolences to Paolo's family."

Read more: Tributes pour in following death of popular food critic Paolo Tullio

Fellow chef Kevin Dundon last night paid his respects to his "fantastic friend".


"He was a great friend of mine," he said. "I ate many a dinner with him and he was a great chef, a great food critic, a great storyteller and a great friend. He will be sadly missed, I just can't believe he is gone."

Renowned chef Dylan McGrath said he was devastated to hear the news.

"I'm devastated to hear of Paolo's passing. I am deeply saddened. He was one of the few critics that felt it was their job to encourage food and culinary work in Ireland.

"Unlike other critics, who had never owned a restaurant and felt it was their job to give an opinion either good or bad, he tried to encourage young chefs. He really felt it was his job to help those who were really trying and could tell them from those who couldn't care less."

Dylan added: "He always tried to be fair and push a restaurant and keep it on its feet.

"Paolo was one of the most generous, thoughtful and compassionate men I had ever met. He was always mannerly and helpful. He was a true friend, I will miss him dearly."

Read more: Farewell Paolo Tullio: Five of Paolo's most memorable thoughts on food

Paolo was also resident critic on TV show 'The Restaurant' and was a regular on Newstalk's 'Moncrieff' show.

Newstalk presenter George Hook, who also appeared on 'The Restaurant', described Paolo as an "extraordinary talent".

"I am deeply sad to hear of Paolo's passing. First it was Derek Davis, then Bill O'Herlihy, and now Paolo. At my age, it really brings home your mortality," he said. "He was an excellent writer. It takes extraordinary skill to write about a restaurant and do it without being negative.

"I remember fondly the time he recommended me to take his place as a food writer for the Irish Independent while he was away.

"It was just typical of the type of person that he was. He was always so generous and thought of other people."

Paolo on ...


On reviewing Bianconi's Bistro, Dublin 4 - March 31, 2015

"The Irish like espresso like their tea, as hot as possible. In Italy, an espresso might come just a third of the way up the demitasse. Try that here and you'll be asked: 'Where's the rest of my espresso?'"


On reviewing Dakshin in Dublin - April 1999

"It's a curious thing that, even when your stomach feels completely full, there's often a bit of space in your dessert stomach, which quite obviously is a different stomach."


On reviewing Dawson Brasserie in Dublin - March 3, 2014

"I'm a recent convert to soup. For years I steadfastly avoided it, but the onion soup with parmesan crisp served in Salt of Monkstown changed my mind."

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