Eating out: Insider visits Toscana, Dame Street, Dublin 2
Excellent food, a convivial atmosphere whether you're a party of two or 12, and lovely service means that Toscana is a hidden gem in plain sight.
One thing Dublin is not short of is Italian restaurants, of all shapes and sizes.
From the homey, kitchen-y vibes of Da Mimmo on the North Strand and Ciao Bella Roma and Parliament Street, to the more upmarket feel of San Lorenzo's on George's Street and The Unicorn on Merrion Row, you can find Italian food of varying style on pretty much any street in the city.
Toscana falls somewhere between the two; the fare is distinctly traditional Italian, from pizza and pasta to meat dishes and risotto – nothing is off the menu – and the quality is excellent. However, the price is definitely on the cheaper side, which is incredible considering that most of the produce is grown organically by the chef himself.
The vibe is more old school than Mamma's check-tableclothed dining room – lots of wood and crisp linens. The food though, could transport you to Italy with one mouthful. Delicious traditional pasta with added flair (the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is divine), gorgeous
fresh fish (just look at the sea bass, above) and crisp, juicy pizza, this place is all about the flavours, fresh ingredients and tender loving care from the team.
Not the most prominent of places, perhaps due to the touristy nature of Dame Street, Toscana deserves a higher profile than it currently has.
The restaurant has a sister in Dun Laoghaire, but it's by no means a chain – just a family business with two outlets.
No, it's not hip or zeitgeisty (no pulled pork here) and the clientele isn't exactly trendy. But excellent food, a convivial atmosphere whether you're a party of two or 12, and lovely service means that Toscana is a hidden gem in plain sight.
Bling is the wrong word... the decor is warm, inviting and rich, with classy accents.
Perfectly servicable, nothing to write home about though.
Incredibly polite and well-informed.
Extensive wine list, the house red is a winner.
In the 'hood
Dame Street is pretty touristy, but Brogan's beside the Olympia is always a good shout for an after dinner drink
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent