Go Fork Yourself: Pacino’s, Suffolk St, Dublin 2
Why anyone gets odd at not getting a +1 on a wedding invite is beyond me. Yes, if you’re in a relationship it is a sign that everyone hates your significant other but if you’re not then why would you want to be on introduction, minding, and appeasing duty for a day when you could be cajoling care-free with the friends or family that have you at the wedding in the first place?
A similar concern came over me a fortnight ago. Ramp.ie was lucky enough to be invited along to Pacino’s on Suffolk St in Dublin 2 and I saw fit to invite a workmate along. My need for company soon gave way to my concern that if the evening went to pot that I would be responsible. Why hadn’t I just brought a more disposable friend? I of course wanted to eat well but I absolutely found myself rooting for the restaurant to show my company a good time as much as me. Luckily there were pleasant faces and prompt service throughout the night and a resounding consensus of decent as we left sometime later.
Pacino’s is nestled on Suffolk Street, walking distance from everywhere. The footpath outside is a nexus of bus stops and tourist trodden routes this time of year. It is almost too obvious a place to go. Wood and brick interiors are a study in amber harmony and create a comfortable, casual setting. Front windows open onto the street and on this occasion let the bustling street and June sunshine in but I can’t help but think the room would work better in colder climes as well.
Equipped with glasses of Peroni, my company, let’s call him Hugh, started with a bowl of gnocchi. Public service announcement: pronounce it knee-AH-kee. In a heavy cream sauce, rippled with gorgonzola and spinach, they were rich and unctuous and a treat. I similarly went for a heavy starter, pasta, fagioli e salsiccia – a soup with pasta, beans and Italian sausage. Now Italian sausage doesn’t contain bread crumbs but no fear as there was bread on the side so that I managed to fit as many forms of carbohydrate into a course which, let’s face it, is supposed to whet an appetite, not put it in a catatonic state. You can’t help but be drawn to dishes and the connotations they carry of being moreish or hearty – this soup does that and it delivered here.
For mains a primordial force spoke to me. Figuratively. Italian food came to my life as a young teenager when the height of excitement was an occasional Capricciosa from the town chipper. I have moved on. My chipper has not and the greasy cheesy disk they produce has lost all of its charm. In Pacino’s, the Capricciosa spoke to me from the menu. It’s a busy menu with all the standards. I want to say Italian, I’m sure it’s a hybrid of Italian American and the dishes that have grown in popularity as we have looked to eat other cuisines more authentically. Pacino’s stands firmly on the shoulders of the classics; why shouldn’t it, this cuisine is stubbornly well regarded but the menu is also littered with interesting options – fish and meat dishes with the elements of a square meal on a round plate but of course an Italian influence. This is worth mentioning; Italian food prides itself on being one steeped in the home place and built on simple principles. Whoever they are, they say the difference between Italian and French cooking is that while French cooking highlights the cook, the Italian approach highlights the food. With any restaurant experience both elements should be in place. And the potential is here in Pacino’s for you to eat out and be satisfied you’re getting a quality of Italian food beyond what you can achieve at home.
The Capricciosa was laden with olives, ham, and mushrooms and was lifted with artichokes and an egg nestled in the middle for good measure. Somehow with ham and olives in play the pizza seemed to lack flavour and the egg was worryingly translucent. Was it eaten? – certainly, almost all of it, all that stopped me was my greedy starter. Hugh went for a skewer fillet of beef and Italian sausage served with potatoes, salad and special sauce. There wasn’t a question as to how the beef should be cooked. I think it’s fair to suggest that beef fillet should at least blush a little bit on being cut into. This didn’t, but thankfully didn’t suffer hugely because of it. The accompanying sauce was special, there were notes of saffron and it was a flavoursome addition.
At this stage we had rated the best looking people in the office and eaten so much that Kevin Spacey might turn up in uncredited role any minute for our sins of sloth. So the one panacotta we had for dessert was moderation itself. OK, I ate most of it alone. And by most I mean all. This one has a caramel topping and offset the creamy panacotta below very well. Pacino’s prides itself on using quality ingredients and caters to eaters throughout the day – the restaurant could be the envy of many restaurants with its level of footfall outside; with some quality touches added it can cater to those passing by with the confidence that Italian food suggests.