Affluent Aperitivo at Caffe Parigi (Dublin)

aperitivo caffe parigiI discovered Caffe’ Parigi by accident, as I usually do with most Italian places I find in Dublin. I had been living right around the corner from this place for a few months and never even knew it existed. I came across it one day on Facebook, and discovered that they do aperitivo Wednesday to Friday. Aperitivo…in Dublin!? I imagined the place packed to the rafters with Irish people hogging all this free food and having a full on dinner…just like I used to do in Milan.

I planned to go on a Friday after work with the other half and emailed the bar to check when exactly aperitivo hour was. I was really excited about this. But…Ireland being Ireland, it was not raining but pouring that evening when I finished work. And Irish girls being Irish girls and never ever learning, I was not wearing shoes fit for the rain but ballerinas that evening. Talk about ruining the mood. Needless to say I was not the most amicable companion for a drink date by the time I arrived having trudged up the quays battling puddles and splashy cars.
The excitement had kind of faded… was this really worth it? Yes.

We were greeted, by Italians (always a bonus) and shown to a small table in a row of tables that were a bit too close – Italian style, who cares if you’re sitting on top of someone? In Ireland we have a fear of too close for comfort, whereas in Milan it wouldn’t be out of the norm to share a lunch or aperitivo table with another party. On taking a quick glance through the menu I was impressed to see some classic Italian aperitivo drinks there. Expecting Irish-measured drinks I ordered a negroni and himself got a negroni sbagliato. It came to €10.50 each including the aperitivo buffet. I was soon sorry I ordered that negroni because it most definitely wasn’t an Irish measure, it was so strong I had to swap it with his negroni sbagliato…I’m a crap Irish person, just FYI.
The aperitivo food was of a more ‘high-class’ Milanese aperitivo, one you might find in one of the more affluent bars in Milan. The atmosphere wasn’t so though, it was cosy yet sophisticated.
Mini crostini and two variations of pasta were among the buffet. The crostini were delicious, and I took the pasta with mushroom which was equally delicious.

Mushroom Pappardelle

Mushroom Pappardelle

The atmosphere was not that of a usual aperitivo in Milan, but a little more relaxed. There were only a few tables occupied, a mix of Italian and Irish, and most were after-work drinkers. I would suspect that was due to the horrible night it was. The Irish people that were there also did not seem to avail of the aperitivo food which I didn’t expect, I thought they would be all over it but then again aperitivo is difficult for the average Irish person to understand…there would have to be a catch somewhere surely! The great thing is that even in Ireland, there isn’t. The Italian aperitivo, although slightly less food for slightly less people, works here.

Aperitivo runs from Wednesday to Friday from 5.30pm, and costs €10.50 per drink which includes food.
Go to Caffe Parigi if you are looking for the Italian aperitivo experience with a touch of elegance.

A Temple Bar Treasure: Caffe’ Italiano

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, Caffe Italiano

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, Caffe Italiano

Caffe Italiano is a little gem hiding on Crow Street in Temple Bar. I walk by it every day on my way work but have only really noticed it in the last month. I arranged to meet a friend for lunch today and suggested we try Caffe Italiano as I had read great reviews, but warned I had never actually tried it. I wasn’t disappointed, neither was my friend.

We sat downstairs as the place was practically empty but yet strangely didn’t lack atmosphere. It has a very Italian bar or trattoria-like feel to it. On asking for a table for two we were told to take any one and the waiter left us menus as soon as we sat down at our chosen table. Since we hadn’t seen each other in a very long time we were chatting a lot but quickly knew what we wanted as soon as we opened the menu. I went for Melanzane alla Parmigiana and my friend a classic Lasagna.
While we were waiting for our food, the waiter brought us some rustic bread and olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some side plates. I was delighted when I saw the olive oil brand as it was the very same one I use at home, one I buy from an Italian at the Howth artisan market.
Our food arrived not long after and soon shut us up! It tasted and looked so authentic despite being served on rustic-chic black slates. This kind of presentation was very un-Italian but looked great nonetheless.
When we went to order coffee after lunch I realised that we hadn’t been approached even once since the waiter took our plates…very Italian. We were left alone in our chatter for a long time, which I thought was really nice since there is nothing worse than feeling like you are being pushed off a table. I will mention though, that it did take a while for us to get the waiters attention when we eventually decided to order our coffee as he was busy chatting with colleagues. I really didn’t see this as a negative though as I wasn’t in a rush and it reminded me so much of being in Italy, how customers and waiters alike chatted among themselves and were so easygoing with their lunch break time limits. I am happy to say that the coffee also passed the test- it was great, Italian standard great. I had a macchiato and my friend, naturally being Irish and not abiding by the rules, had a cappuccino.

When we went to pay, although I hadn’t yet spoken to the cashier, he immediately launched into Italian which I was surprised at. I have never been mistaken for an Italian! Feeling absolutely delighted at this I responded in Italian and he went on by asking me if I was Italian and that I had a slight Milanese accent…a little less pleased about that comment but I’ll accept that!

Needless to say I have definitely found my new Italian haunt in Dublin. It is places like these that ease my nostalgia for Italy and give me that little piece of Italian culture away from the Bel Paese.