Sustainability is one of those words that is bandied about but rarely acted upon in any meaningful way. New pasta restaurant Sprezzatura is the best attempt I’ve seen with almost exclusively Irish ingredients and a serious attempt to cut down on waste — even your receipt is emailed rather than printed.
Located on Grantham St off Camden St in perhaps the busiest restaurant area in Dublin with great spots nearby such as Delahunts, Franks, Pickle, and Hang Dai, and casual spots such as the excellent Mad Egg and Camden Rotisserie (perfect for post-pints comforting chicken and chips with gravy).
Sprezzatura does not have a telephone so booking needs to be done via their website and as there were no slots available, we decided to take a chance on one of their walk-in tables.
On arrival to the busy bustling restaurant, we were told by the friendly young staff that there could be a wait of more than an hour but that we would be notified by text when a table became free.
We retired to Anseo pub just 100m away and ordered two Trouble Brewing Session Ales and a packet of dry-roasted peanuts to help stave off our hunger. The genius of the Sprezzatura waiting system is that you can see at all times where you are on the waiting list. Over the next 80 minutes (and more pints) we gradually moved up the list and were eventually sent a text asking if we were still interested.
The restaurant has two rooms, one with standard tables for two, four, and six and a second room with a large, high, communal table surrounded by stools and blackboards with the menu. We loved the casual feel of the large table with the shiny copper and gold wine taps glistening beside us. Wine is only on tap (from Wine Lab) to align with Sprezzatura’s zero waste policy and our 70cl carafe of Primitivo was well worth its €29 — soft juicy fruits and a bitter cherry kick on the finish.
We began with some excellent Castelvetrano Olives (€3.50), including the typical green Castelvetrano Noccelara variety but also nicely pungent salty black olives which tasted more like Greek Kalamata.
Tartine 30% Rye Sourdough (€2.50) had a sticky dense crust with a gorgeous nuttiness and as a bonus was served warm — we soon piled it high with thinly sliced Mortadella which was sweet and meaty and some of the best I’ve tasted.
Duck and Ham Hock Croquette (€4) was the shape of a Mars bar with textured pulled meat encased in a crisp crumb with a pungent mustard sauce on the side, we should have ordered two.
Aubergine Caponata (€4) brought an involuntary ‘wow’ from my Italian companion, no easy feat given that every Mama in Italy makes a version. The balance was just about perfect with sweetness from the peppers and aubergine balanced by more punchy black olives.
So far so brilliant, the big test however was going to be the pasta. Sprezzatura promises to make seven varieties of fresh pasta every day and I recommend taking a look at the mini videos on their Instagram feed (@sprezzaturadublin) as there is something hugely pleasurable in watching fusilli and rigatoni get extruded through a shiny bronze pasta maker.
Big Rigatoni Carbonara (€8.50) would probably upset the denizens of Lazio who would insist this classic sauce requires Spaghetti or Linguini but it worked surprisingly well.
The pasta was nicely textured and properly cooked and melded well with the creamy rich eggy sauce which was cut through by the salty cured pork pieces.
My companion ordered Tagliatelle with Wild Mushrooms which was similarly textured and flavourful and contained fine quality mushrooms.
Desserts of Popcorn Panna Cotta and Chocolate Mousse (€3.50 each) rounded off the meal well with the mousse creamy and light (if perhaps a little simple in flavour) and the panna cotta wobbly, creamy and sweet with the popcorn balancing out the flavours.
Sprezzatura is doing something genuinely different and exciting and I am looking forward to going back.
I do wonder if they can keep such low prices in the long term, but I also know I would be happy to pay more and so I suspect would others. Bravissimo.
Dinner for two including bread, olives, four small plates, two pasta dishes, two desserts and a bottle of wine cost a mere €73.50
Monday to Saturday: 12pm to 10pm; Sunday: 12pm to 8pm
A bustling, great value, fresh pasta focused restaurant with supremely tasty food and a buzzy atmosphere.