It was the last day of the Christmas holidays, so time to cling onto the good times with a trip over to Ballyhackamore to meet up with family (including our little niece) and give Il Pirata a proper look. And in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, we’ll even try not to sit on the review too long!
It’s hard to remember that just a couple of months ago the ‘industrial rustic’ interior was a KFC. Under the guidance of Beannchor group Executive Chef Tony O’Neill, interior designers Oscar & Oscar have clearly had a ball filling the space with warm, worn wood and mismatched furnishings that sit well together without making a fuss of their non-conformity.
Evidently we weren’t the only ones enjoying their last long Monday lunch for a few months as the large dining area was almost full. The only down side of this being that the single high chair was in use - no bother, our niece didn’t mind being passed around along with the small plates.
Ordering was simple; we wanted to try every small plate going and a plate of the braised brisket pappardelle.
The chicken spiedini with pepper sauce was simply prepared with the tender roll of chicken surrounding a delicate touch of herbs that complemented, rather than overpowered, the lightly charred chicken.
A favourite on the opening night, the mushroom arancini (aka ‘risotto balls’!) are rich, creamy parcels of earthy comfort food that should not be missed.
The polenta chips with tomato sauce was a lovely rustic Italian take on the good ol’ fries and ketchup.
The sweet baby peppers with ricotta and pinenuts were a little on the hot side for our taste buds, though the heat did take enough time to build to allow us to enjoy the cheese within.
The spiced pork slider was a hit on opening night and hasn’t changed since. The home made mixture is packed with fennel and laced with a pleasing chilli kick.
The stuffed Portabello mushroom with pesto and parmesan was a wonderful full flavoured hit that benefitted from the fresh pesto and peppery rocket.
The Cazilli croquettes were good, but felt like a side that was missing a main or a dip. But maybe we’re just not fans of croquettes. Look, it’s me, not you.
The slow braised beef brisket ragu with parpadelle was excellent. Thick strips of perfectly cooked pasta intertwined with generous chunks of shredded braised beef. This rich dish brightened by a dash of fresh tomato sauce and a sprinkling of parsley.
On to desserts and the Ameretto panna cotta with fruit compote was the only disappointment of the meal. The Amaretto completely disappeared into the thick cream, which lacked the texture of a panna cotta, leaving little more than a pot of stewed fruit and whipped cream.
Once wrestled from our niece (who was eager to eat it by the fist full), the tiramisu certainly made up for the panna cotta. A excellent example of a classic dish.
The spoon load of lemon posset (not pictured - the horror) we tried was fabulous - a sharp zing of raspberry jelly on top of a perfectly smooth posset. We didn’t get enough to award it the accolade of ‘best dessert’… but we have our suspicions. Something to confirm next time!
Would we go back? The above snap captures our feelings on Il Pirata. If only society permitted us all to shove the plate into our face, there were a number of dishes that would have got the licking-the-plate treatment and we only really tried the small plates…
A meal for two at Il Pirata sharing the above plates and a couple of drinks came in at around £40. Small plates hover around the £3 mark and mains come in at £8.