This month our city focus was on the Kilkenny, 24 Hours in Kilkenny is guaranteed to be fun, memorable and full of good food. A stand out highlight of our trip was an Italian restaurant tucked around the corner from our hotel Pembroke Kilkenny. Much to our shame, even though Ristorante Rinuccini celebrated 25 years in business this year (no mean feat in such a competitive industry) and the fact we had been to the city many times we had missed out on this gem. Well not this time!
We made a booking for 7.30 and made a mad dash in torrential rain around to Rinuccini. Instantly we knew this was a good choice, apart from the shelter from the elements there is nothing better than walking in to a stylish restaurant and a warm, smiling face greeting you. May seem like a little thing but this can be hard to come by on many a night in a busy restaurant.
As we were led to our table, to the rear of the building, we were intrigued by the layout of Rinuccini. Riccardo who manages the restaurant and is also the son of the Head Chef/Owner Antonio explained it perfectly as “a little burrow of nooks and crannies“. Italian restaurants may appear to be a bit out of flavour at the moment, not so here as this 100 seater restaurant was virtually full by 8pm. The decor is warm and inviting and the design of the building means no matter where you are seated you still can have an intimate meal. Our seat had a bird’s eye view of their impressive wine cellar which can be viewed through glass panels on the floor and the guys are more than happy to give you a tour which we would definitely recommend.
We were well looked after on the night by our server Milko, if only we could clone him and have one in every restaurant we visit. People like this are the essence of Rinuccini, excellently trained but with an engaging warmth that can never be taught, you either have it or you don’t and Milko has it in spades. He talked us through the extensive wine list which has some of the best Italian wines money can buy. Rinuccini pride themselves on this and source almost all of their wine direct from Italian vineyards which they visit themselves. Many of their ingredients are also imported direct from Lazio where Antonio grew up, such as their divine balsamic vinegar however when you read the menu you will see how passionate Antonio is about local Irish produce.
So what about the food, as you would expect a lot of traditional Italian dishes but most with a modern Irish twist. I settled on Seared Kilmore Quay Scallops, which were light and deliciously fresh, drizzled in Italian extra virgin olive oil with a dash of white wine, garlic and a hint of coriander. My partner in crime settled on a more hearty offering of wafer thin slices of Air-dried Beef generously stuffed with basil and garlic ricotta and topped with tiny toasted walnuts. Tastefully presented and rich in flavour.
Main courses were an easy decision, the catch of the day was Haddock with Slow Dried Tomato, capers, olives and a dash of oregano. A pleasant crunch to the top revealed a heavenly bite below. Being in Kilkenny it seemed only polite to try the Kilkenny Rosé Veal, true to it’s name it arrived light pink, cooked medium. The succulent veal escallops were filled with fontina cheese and spinach and set on a bed of white wine sauce – heavenly. Both dishes were served with potatoes and grated turnip.
Based on Milko’s recommendation we ordered a bottle of Gavioli Sergavio Bianco Toscano 2008, having fallen out of love with Chardonnays this has reinvigorated a new passion. If it’s good enough for Antonio and Marion’s wedding day it’s more than good enough for us.
Before dessert we took the opportunity to take a peek inside the cellar beneath us, if you dine here make sure to check this out. We were talked through some amazing wines, their history and how meticulous the family are in choosing each and every one. All this wine talk built up enough of an appetite for a rich Chocolate Mousse Cake with the most decadent caramel ice cream, just one though, perfect for sharing.
Just as the end of service Riccardo popped over to see how we enjoyed the experience, something he makes sure he asks everyone in the restaurant. Chatting to him it’s easy to see how this family business is still thriving, the infectious charm and relaxed down to earth manner clearly has a huge influence on this restaurant, especially on the staff out front. With plans for a private dining room to be added shortly it looks as though Ristorante Rinuccini will be here for another 25 years and we look forward to many fine meals here in the future.
This is a Timeless Taste we highly recommend.
1 The Parade
T: 056 7761575
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.