Grano: Italian food you'll truly love
When I moved to Ireland, I discovered something I had never heard of before: people who didn’t eat pasta growing up - only potatoes, and even harder to believe, people who didn’t like pasta. Coming from a French-Italian family, I grew up eating pasta - I am yet to find a type of pasta I don’t like.
For some reason, unless I am in Italy, I am quite reluctant ordering pasta in a restaurant. I tend to feel like I could make it just as well, if not better, at home. But when we go to a proper Italian restaurant, like Luna in Dublin, or Mamma Primi in Paris, pasta turns out to be a proper treat I can never grow tired of. The same way I can look at a bowl of pasta and tell if they are cooked properly, a look at Grano’s Instagram page doesn’t leave much of a doubt: these guys can make pasta.
This new Stoneybatter eatery has been gathering praise and great reviews since its opening and we were absolutely dying to try it. Claiming to offer a contemporary cuisine that respects the roots and traditions of Italian cooking, the restaurant sources its ingredients from small Italian food and wine producers. Also, they make their own fresh pasta.
On a Tuesday evening, the cosy place was buzzing with a fuss-free, friendly atmosphere that is usually found in long-standing neighbour restaurants. We got the table right in front of the open kitchen, beside a big leg of ham that got chopped multiple times during the evening.
We started our meal by sharing a plate of Lardo filettato with sourdough bread - which took quite a while to arrive since the waiter got our order mixed up, but the plate was worth the wait. The crispy pieces of bread were topped with paper thin slices of ham which melted like butter. We also indulged on an incredibly tasty olive oil brought to us alongside a bread basket, an organic extra virgin number from Calabria that you can purchase in the restaurant.
We shared a Sgombro al forno as a starter, some baked mackerel with potatoes and herbs, a tangy red pepper cream and tender-stem broccoletti - a comforting yet fresh seasonal dish, before moving on to the highly-anticipated pasta course.
The tagliolini came with with organic datterino tomatoes from Puglia and burrata stracciatella cheese. With their perfectly smooth texture and delicate basil flavour, the homemade pasta were to die for. The creamy burrata paired beautifully with the sharpness of the tomato flesh, but I found the skin of the tomatoes slightly thick and left them on the side of my plate.
Damien went for the Papardelle with slow cooked wild boar ragu. This meaty dish put the so-called bolognese that we find on too many menus to shame: the bite size pieces of boar melted in the mouth, while the pasta were, of course, cooked to perfection. We enjoyed our mains with a glass of Rosso Piceno and of Puglia Rosso, two of the three red wines available by the glass, both with strong enough-bodied to answer to the rich flavours of the food.
While the dinner was more than filling - did I mention that we really enjoyed the bread and olive oil? - I got a glimpse at the homemade tiramisu during our dinner and couldn’t leave without getting a taste of it. I love making tiramisu at home, but again, I tend to stay away from it when eating out as I often find it too heavy in alcohol. While the waiter confirmed that their tiramisu contained Marsala, I decided to chance it and my good feeling was confirmed. This tiramisu was the best I’ve had in a restaurant, with a light, moussy cream, deliciously moist fingers and a touch of cacao on top. A real treat that is worth a visit to Grano all by itself.
Damien got the salame al cioccolato, a nutty biscuit cake with a Sicilian blood orange reduction which couldn’t have found a better companion in the espresso we ordered to finish our dinner. With prices around €8 for the starters, €15 for the pasta and €6 for the desserts, the bill came to about €80 including tips and two glasses of wine. While the service was a bit messy at times - though nothing to taint the casual vibe running in the all-Italian team - we were impressed by the quality of the food provided. Some traditional dishes, beautifully executed, with a strong focus on ingredients: Grano seems to have found the recipe for success.