T’was a cold and windy Friday evening. Dubliners new and old were huddled over their well-earned pints. When lo a tummy growled and demanded it be fed. So yonder did we flee…..oh bugger this I’ll never be able to keep it up. You know the feeling; nothing booked, miserable night and you just want something yummy. Well did we hit the jackpot or what?
Over the past 10 years or so Capel Street has gone through a big change: lots of gay venues (ok 3), coffee shops, good ould Irish pubs and plenty of that naughties stalwart the internet cafe. Then Asian people came along and upped the ante adding some real gastronomic gravitas (and karaoke naturally) to the mix. All the time, there was Ristorante Romano, offering homemade Italian goodness to the masses.
Ristorante Romano is nestled close to Panti’s breast, just a couple of doors up from Panti Bar so if you’re gay and have ever been to Dublin, you’ll have passed it. On peeping in, you probably thought “oohh blast from the past” and walked on. Next time stop and enter. Yes, Ristorante Romano is a blast from the past but so is a cuddle from mama.
When we arrived on that awful Friday evening, we were welcomed by the owner, Romano funnily enough, a diminutive man as in love with cycling as he is with food. The decor in Ristorante Romano is full-on 70′s Italian restaurant: white glass-top tables, plastic tablecloths, empty Chianti bottles posing as candle holders, candle lit as you seat yourself, real carnations in a small vase mid-table. The works. However, the atmosphere is so warm and homely that, instead of thinking “god bring out the half-frozen prawn cocktail”, you’re thinking “sigh, I hope they have meatballs”.
The menu arrived and had everything you would expect: starters such as Bruschetta, Insalata and Melon & Prosciutto; a variety of mains including chicken, fish, steak and of course pasta and pizzas. Homemade in a real person’s real home. To say I was spoiled for choice would be an understatement; think kid in a toy shop.
Myself and my little lady jumped straight (well as much a pair of lesbos can) into the main courses. She went for Pizza Funghi minus the olives please and I chose those meatballs. We also ordered a bottle of Chianti.
The wine was perfect for the evening, it won’t win any awards but it was the perfect vin de table; easy to drink and looks after you as you drink it.
But the food’s the thing. My partner’s pizza was attacked and digested in about 10 minutes; it was something else to behold, she’s got a talent. Apparently the base was perfectly thin and they had the crispy-balance right, whatever that means.
My Spaghetti All’ Meatballs was just gorgeous. The meatballs were moist and delicious, the sauce excellent and the spaghetti spot on. This is my kind of comfort food, it fills you up without giving two fingers to your taste buds.
We didn’t go for dessert but they had the best 70s and 80s desserts – Banana Split, Fresh Fruit Pavlova and they have to be one of the only places left in Dublin where you can get Banana Flambé.
Ristorante Romano is like going to your mammy’s for dinner. If she was Italian and a great cook. She’d also have to be pretty open-minded about the gays too as Ristorante Romano was full of like-minded people when we were there. OK, it’s close to Panti Bar and OUThouse, but us gays are a picky bunch of eaters so proximity alone doesn’t persuade us. Obviously, I’m not the only one who like good, simple food cooked by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Our meal came to €42 altogether; a steal.
Ristorante Romano is located on 12 Capel Street, Dublin 1
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