By Colette Fitzpatrick
Sprezzatura has definitely had one of the buzziest restaurant openings of the year and immediately filled my Stories and timeline. And it is easy to see why. It hits the sustainability buzzword of the moment with its wine on tap, paperless policy (menus are on a chalkboard on the wall, all transactions are electronic, and receipts are emailed), and mission statement of working towards being as minimal waste as possible. It also offers a slim menu of Italian classics that are pretty darn authentic and all about no-fuss, no-pretension quality. It’s minimalist in a very trendy kind of way without being overly intimidating. And, importantly, it is exceptionally affordable. While the Dublin culinary scene is rather band-wagony and mindless at times, at least on this occasion it seems justified with an offering that doesn’t fall into the style-over-substance trope that has plagued the industry in recent years.
Italian small plates and pasta dishes with plates including the likes of olives, focaccia, salads, stracciatella, croquettes, and cured meats all hovering around the €3.50 to €7 euro price range and the pasta offerings including classic Italian staples such as Bolognese, ragu, cacio e pepe, and more from around €7 to €10. In addition to this, there is usually one dessert option and a selection of beers and wines on tap.
5/6 Camden Market, Dublin 8
Mon-Sat 12pm to 10pm
Sunday 12pm to 8pm
Simple, no-fuss delicious food, like what you would actually find in a lot of restaurants (or, more accurately, quite like what you would find at local food festivals where food is sold as is, rather than in courses) Italy at incredible reasonable price-points for Ireland. This is what Italian food should be: It shouldn’t be made overly complicated. It is based in peasant food traditions so it shouldn’t be expensive. It shouldn’t be inaccessible and intimidating. It should be made of the best quality ingredients. And it should be hearty, satisfying, and comforting.
Even though I promised myself that I would stop, after a few disastrous experiences, I still keep going to restaurants immediately after opening. I know that there will be teething issues and they are often quite bad in the Dublin scene where some developers and groups are in an incredible and inadvisable rush to open a place. At Sprezzatura, I was there within a few days of opening and saw some minor confusion but this was so overwhelmed by the amazing customer service and delicious food that I had absolutely no issue with it. When I made my return visit yesterday, I found a tightly-run ship in tip-tip condition. Beers had been added to the wine menu, which was a pleasant surprise, and though my beloved sage butter gnocchi was no longer on the menu, the tomato and basil rigatoni that I had was exactly what I needed in my life: comfort on a plate. The staff remain impressively kind and on it given how busy it continues to be and my second experience only furthered my good feeling about the place. I had heard so much talk about it in the meantime between my trips that I wondered if hype would ruin it but it hasn’t, not by a long shot. This is what food should be in Ireland today. Let’s say goodbye to snobbery and embrace sustainability, affordability, and quality, instead! More of this in 2020, please.