South William Street is one of the more popular Dublin thoroughfares - for a good reason. It’s home to the undeniably wonderful Tropical Popical, the delectable Dada, and some of the nicest coffee in town (looking at you, Frame and Clemente & Pekoe!) However the star of the show is undeniably Powerscourt Townhouse.
It’s a place both locals and tourists alike can cross paths and enjoy some of Ireland’s finest delights.
Now, what if I told you that underneath (yes, UNDERNEATH) Powerscout Townhouse was Dublin’s most sumptuous Italian hideaway? I’m sure you’ve walked by it 1000 times and never noticed it existed, and let me tell you - you’ve made a mistake.
The hideaway I’m referring to is Italian restaurant La Cucina, whose website promises to offer those who dine with them a “truly memorable experience.”
They deliver this promise fairly immediately.
The gorgeous stairway entry is memorable enough on its own, as is their impossibly cosy courtyard...
By the time I had walked through the doors I had already been completely been won over. This place is a true urban retreat.
One of those places that is the definition of ‘hygge’, the ambiance here is so lovely that even if the food was mediocre you would still want to pop in for a coffee or a drink. It's set underground in the Powerscourt Vaults and the room instantly impresses.
We made it just in time for their early bird menu, which offers an appetiser and a main for €18 or all three traditional courses for €21.
The Early Bird is available all evening on Mondays, from 5pm to 6:30pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 5pm to 9pm on Sundays, so chances are you'll find the time to pop in.
We did what any respectable foodies would do and over-ordered so we could try everything.
We stuck to three classics to start (bruschetta, antipasti, caprese salad) and one wild card (hand made agnolotti), all of which were sent directly by Jesus himself to our dinner table. Truly divine.
Three beautifully done classics, but the wild card ended up being the favourite.
Their agnolotti is stuffed unexpectedly with pumpkin and ricotta which create an incredible creamy, rich filling.
Having loved the starters, we had major expectations for our mains. La Cucina’s chefs utilise the traditional Italian "Al Forno" cooking technique which involves cooking the food in a large open wood burning oven.
They claim this gives their creations a distinctive and unique taste. The dishes we ordered aren’t meant for sharing but that didn’t stop us...
Our first choice was the one we expected to be the most basic, Meatball Linguini.
It’s a subtle spin on spaghetti and meatballs, but were truly blown away by how flavourful it was. The sauce and the meatballs were seasoned to perfection. Classic, light, fresh and flavourful - an exceptional version of a classic dish.
Our next choice was the Handmade Gnocchi, which ended up being the group favourite. It had a surprising smokiness in the cheese that cut the sweetness from the tomato sauce perfectly.
It’s a silky, dense dish, extremely filling and excellent for sharing! A definite winner for those who love all things tomato based.
Our final dishes were the Pappardelle and the Fettuccini Alla Gricia. The Pappardelle was a seafood lovers dream - covered in mussels, white wine and parsley. The flavour of the mussels was prevalent in every bite.
It was simple but rich, and the noodles were incredible thick, almost like dough!
The Fettucini sadly didn’t wow us, but that we all agreed it was still a fine addition to our feast. Creamy, buttery, stuffed with bacon - nothing to complain about.
A good choice for those whose culinary palette loves all things plain and uncomplicated though.
Last but certainly not least, we shared two Tiramisus and mixed berry Panna Cotta for dessert.
Both were spectacular, and beautifully presented. They also offer a delectable looking cheeseboard for those lacking a sweet tooth.
Their menu also includes steak, risotto, chicken and even tuna! So don’t be worried if you’re not in the mood for pasta (although you don't wanna miss out on that gnocchi!)
The Early Bird menu offers the best deals by far, but the food is so nice that all of us agreed we would happily pay full price. Their starters range from €6 to €18 and their mains from €18 to €28.
In true Italian fashion, the wait staff let us sit around for as long as we’d like and didn’t rush our meal at all.
The fact that it’s underground makes it dark and romantic at any time of day, yet even with their roaring wood fire oven it somehow isn’t hot or stuffy at all down there. If it’s a balmy evening and you’re itching to be outside their charming outdoor area is perfect for a drink and some light bites.
A must visit for a date night, and a perfect place for those craving a heart-warming Italian feast.