Restaurant review Osteria Lucio: “There were a number of restaurants in this D2 area, but the food has never been so good”
When Ross Lewis announced he would be handing over the culinary baton at Chapter One to Mickael Viljanen this time last year, it seemed like a smart move. Chapter One needed a fresh vision to take it to the next level and Viljanen had already proven himself to the Michelin inspectors when he received two stars at The Greenhouse on Dawson Street. (These premises remain vacant, a shame given the prime location.) Lewis’s instincts proved correct when Chapter One earned a second star in February. And while he’s still in business, the day-to-day stress of running a high-end kitchen no longer keeps him up at night.
r one might think so.
Having worked in fine dining for 30 years (and Lewis always seemed to be in Chapter One’s kitchen, invariably there for a spin around the dining room at the end of the service), you might have expected him to be eager was trading his chef’s knives for a set of golf clubs, or his cuits for a lycra cycling ensemble. So when I show up on a bank holiday weekend for an early Sunday lunch at Osteria Lucio, the restaurant he and his friend and Michelin-starred chef Luciano Tona opened in 2016, I don’t expect to find the man himself annoyed by a leaking gutter, before hopping into the kitchen for his shift. (To be honest, he probably doesn’t expect to see me either.) But like every other restaurant in the country, Osteria Lucio has a hard time recruiting chefs, so Lewis can be found there most days by the wood-burning stove, doing what he’s doing best can. That’s good news for clients, if not for their dreams of a quieter life.
Obviously the food here is very different from what Lewis cooked in Chapter One. But even if the schtick is casual, there’s a certain rigor in the way things are done, and whether you prefer pizza and prosecco or a four-course meal with serious wines, you’ll eat well.
Lewis says that one of the challenges he finds at Osteria Lucio is grappling with the order. The restaurant is popular with people attending a performance at the Bord Gáis Theater in the Grand Canal Dock, but theatergoers are not a homogenous bunch and with performances changing as often as they do it is a task to find out, for example what someone visits Waitress probably want to eat, and if that could be any different from someone Callan’s kicksor School of Rockor actually Toska.
There are four of us which allows us to cover a lot of ground. A special bruschetta appetizer with veal liver (Lewis tells us it’s hard to sell to those under a certain age, a threshold I’m happy to cross in this case) is delightful. The liver is tender in a rich sauce with plump golden raisins and parsley, the bread is chargrilled. Polpette — a tennis ball-sized meatball of prosciutto and mortadella, big enough to share between us — sits in a pool of orange-accented tomato sauce under a shell of melty mozzarella.
Salted scallops – a more generous portion than I’ve had elsewhere recently – with burnt orange, Amalfi lemon, chili and pickled garlic are delicate, almost austere. Wild jumbo prawns with spiced garlic butter and a crostino with ‘Nduja are tasty enough to make up for the mess when eating (warning: don’t wear whites if you plan to eat these!), though at €22 for a serving of two, whopping €11 per shrimp, the price makes you think.
The pastas—a lasagna of Irish Wagyu with spinach, chili, and smoked scamorza, and parmesan-filled ravioli topped with asparagus, wild garlic, and roasted pumpkin seeds—are superb. Someone proposes a new family tradition: a pizza “for the table”. What a good idea! The Bologna is a bianca with mortadella, pistachios, spinach, Cáis na Tíre feta cheese and a retro flourish of balsamic glaze. If you’ve ever visited this beautiful city of colonnades and eaten your weight in mortadella, you know it’s so much more than Billy Roll, whatever the haters say, and you’re going to love it. We share a suckling pig special that’s flavorful but a little repetitive (more sizzling please) and finish it off with a shared tiramisu of simple, classic perfection.
This space under the railway arches has housed a number of restaurants over the years, but neither the food nor the upgraded interior have ever been as good as they are now. With a cocktail and two bottles of wine, our bills totaled €319.50 before service.
A Margherita pizza will cost you €18.
If you have chosen prawns, squid noodles, fish dishes, side dishes and dessert, you can spend €100 per head before drinks or service.
Osteria Lucio, The Malt Tower, Clanwilliam Terrace, Dublin 2.
https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/food-reviews/osteria-lucio-restaurant-review-this-d2-space-has-been-home-to-a-string-of-restaurants-but-the-food-has-never-been-as-good-41664131.html Restaurant review Osteria Lucio: “There were a number of restaurants in this D2 area, but the food has never been so good”