Lunch time dining can be a tough gig for many venues these days, with the explosion of casual eateries like Sprout, Chopped and anywhere else you can shake a broccoli stem at are the days of leisurely three course lunches over?
On a recent trip to a much acclaimed Temple Bar spot who you may remember as Cafe Italiano, now renamed as Rosa Madre, we went to investigate how busy these type of venues are doing in the hub of tourist activity.
Surprisingly many of its neighbours on Crow Street don’t open for lunch which would lead you to believe there is very little demand in these parts, add to this the closure of Nick Munier’s Avenue and you can understand how it can be hard to push people into the depths of Temple Bar.
There are however some really good restaurants worth seeking out, Rosa Madre has been winning over many fans recently with their authentic style of Italian cooking which is more about light fresh dishes than heavy coma inducing pastas.
In fact Rosa Madre is becoming a bit of a mecca for seafood, with daily special depending on what the trawler has uncovered that day.
We were greeted with a typical warm Italian welcome by Luca De Marzio, owner and front of house, who’s enthusiasm for his catch of the day are more than a little infectious.
We began with three monstrously big Scallops (€14) plated in shells dressed simply with toasted breadcrumbs, tomato, parsley cuttings and a good measure of garlic to give them a little kick. As a starter there is more than enough for two to share so be warned if you are enjoying as a single dish.
Unaware of the generous portion sizes we had ordered a starter each, on the other side of the table arrived an equally challenging plate of the most delectable sautéed Baby Octopus (€9), served with lashings of cherry tomato sauce and a simple handful of rocket with some bread lightly drizzled in Olive Oil. This was a dish that could easily transport you to a tiny trattoria overlooking the Adriatic Sea on a balmy night. Good food that leaves you yearning for more.
Luca had informed us he had just been delivered a beautiful piece of Sole Meunière (€28) which in hindsight would have been more than a substantial feed for both of us. Served on the bone and expertly filleted by the man himself at the table all this fleshy feast needed was some lemon and butter with a big helping of spinach to complete a wonderful plate.
The second main of Turbot Paccheri Pasta (€16.50), proved that pasta can be light weight, full of flavour and a lot more than a bowl of comfort. Paccheri is a much larger tube of pasta but Rosa Madre’s take was well measured and utterly delicious. As with most of the menu dishes are uncomplicated with the flavour doing all the talking.
Even though we were only stopping by for lunch we can’t not mention Rosa Madre’s impressive Italian wine list with by the glass option starting form €7 and ranging form a choice of 12 running up to fine wines by the coravin, We enjoyed a rich glass of Cantina Negrar 2015 Valpolicella (€9) which was silky smooth although if you are looking to push the boat out there are several vintages of top drawer Super Tuscans like Amarone or our wish-list wine Sassiccia if you fancy parting with a few hundred euros.
After two fine course and our bellies full we were fully intent on skipping dessert but in true Italian style Luca was intent on us sampling a small piece of “Columba” a traditional Italian Easter dessert that his mum had smuggled over on her last visit. Similar to a Panettone and often referred to as “Dove Cake” due to its shape it is usually topped with sugar and almonds and is deliciously fluffy in texture.
Luca informed us it is best served with dollop of Zabaglione which is a highly addictive Italian custard with a dash of Sicily’s famous sweet wine Marsala, a wedge of chocolate covered clementine and some dried figs which were coated with rum and dark cocoa. This is what makes Italian cuisine when done right hard to beat, simple ingredients that compliment each other beautifully.
As we made our way back out to the cobble stones we thanked our stars that Rosa Madre has managed to keep their lunch trade going, we may have gained a few pounds but we certainly gained a renewed love for all things Italiano. They say there’s nothing more romantic than Italian food and we couldn’t agree more.
Lunch for two including two glasses of wine and a bottle of Sparkling water came to €89.00
Rosa Madre Restaurant,
7 Crow Street
Keith & Jules Mahon are the founders of TheTaste. We want TheTaste to be a culinary kaleidoscope to champion every taste, food, wine, cocktails, whiskey, etc. We are delighted to be part of such a creative and fast moving industry and are very passionate about sharing with you our unique journey around Ireland finding the best culinary hotspots.