There are few things more comforting than a really great bowl of pasta and while there no shortage of pasta on menus, the real difference between good and great pasta is in the craft and the ingredients. I’m looking for elevated versions of Italian classics using fresh handmade pasta, homemade sauces and top notch ingredients. So whether it’s pappardelle, spaghetti or ravioli you’re craving, these stellar spots should sort you out.
Osteria Lucio, The Malting Tower Clanwilliam Terrace, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin 2
You’ll find this chic, under the radar Italian nestled in the railway arches by Grand Canal Dock, the love child of Michelin-starred Ross Lewis and Italian chef Luciano Tona (three stars between the two chefs). The handmade pasta is teamed with the best ingredients for some decadent combinations. Squid ink capelli d’angelo (angel hair pasta) is wrapped around Irish crab, scallions and garlic. Tagliatelle is paired with Irish wagyu and chilli and fettuccine is served with saffron, datterino tomatoes, Macroom buffalo ricotta and pistachio. Nab one of the high tables and tuck in.
Luna, Unit 2-3 Drury Street, Dublin 2
Luna somehow manages to be thoroughly modern yet delightfully old school in both its setting and its menu. Nestled in a concrete car park building, inside it's all dark wood, velvet and luxury. Then there are the glamorous oversized menus listing out some magnificent pasta choices. Homemade agnolotti stuffed with ragu bolognese are unctuous and satisfying, there’s bucatini cacio e pepe (with cheese and pepper), spaghetti con cozze e vongole (with mussels & clams) and spaghetti al tartufo (with truffle). Pasta that lives up to its decadent surrounds.
Terra Madre, 13a Bachelors Walk, Dublin, Ireland
This no-frills Italian on Bachelors Walk is a compact dining room with authentic Italian vibes. They pride themselves on sourcing the best quality ingredients with their pasta all’ouvo coming from ‘the hilltop village of Campofilone overlooking the Adriatic Sea in Italy’s Le Marche region.’ You’ll forgive them for not making their own when you try the offerings. Tagliatelle Campofilone (‘made in the same traditional way as it was made in the past by the old ladies of the village’) is served with tomato and basil from Calabria. Pappardelle with duck ragu is made in the traditional Tuscan countryside style. Gnocchi comes again with rabbit and piopparelli (wild mushroom) ragout. Ravioli del ‘Plin’ with black truffle and cheese fondue are made by hand in Piemonte using a traditional technique known as ‘Plin’ - the pinch.
Host, 13 Ranelagh, Dublin 6
This elegant Ranelagh local is a joy from start to finish. From the on-trend interiors of navy, pinks and bright whites to the short simple menu that delivers on taste and looks. The Italian inspired menu is full of grin-inducing dishes and the pasta, made from scratch here daily, is divine. I’ve tried their silky tagliatelle with slow-cooked duck ragu and pillowy cappellacci stuffed with pumpkin & sage and would go back for these again and again.
Da Mimmo, 148 North Strand, Dublin 3
Da Mimmo offers a homely, old-school approach to Italian but don’t let what first strikes you as a crowd pleaser menu, featuring lasagne and bolognese, put you off. The pasta dishes here are both comforting and well executed. Penne ‘Da Mimmo’ is with fresh Italian sausages and creamy red bell peppers sauce, their lasagna baked with layers of pasta, stuffed with bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce, ham, parmesan and mozzarella cheese is like a big Italian hug. Spaghetti alle vongole with clams, white wine sauce, cherry tomatoes, fresh chilli, toasted pistachio nuts, garlic and parsley is a firm favourite. There’s something for everyone here and worth seeking out.
Dall'Italia, 1 Grantham Street, Dublin
When lunchtime pasta craving hits or you’re looking for a quick-fix pasta supper, seek out Dall'Italia Pasta Bar on Camden Street. It’s a concept I always think we should see more of - pick your pasta, your sauce and your toppings and they cook it fresh right in front of you. Choose from handmade pastas - trottole, tagliatelle, maccheroni rigate and whole wheat fusilli. Then there’s a simple selection of sauces - carbonara, pesto, tomato, ragu, quatro frammagero or oil, garlic and parsley. Add your own toppings - chicken, bacon, vegetables, spinach. Hey presto, your personalised pasta is served.
Rosa Madre, 7 Crow Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Seafood and pasta are a wonderful pairing and nowhere does it better in Dublin than the rather glamorous Temple Bar restaurant Rosa Madre. All white linens and refined Italian classics, the menu focuses on all things aquatic and of course, pasta. Their speciality is tonnarelli pasta served with lobster and cherry tomato sauce. Then there’s linguine with a fresh chunk of sea bass, paccheri pasta with fresh monkfish, risotto with fresh local squid and squid ink and a prawn gnocchi. They also do a glorious tonnarelli carbonara with truffle sauce and plenty more.