The best restaurants in the world are hidden gems. They’re off the beaten track and rarely just stumbled upon. I’m thinking about the likes of 777, Chapter one or Da Mimmo which you’d have trouble finding unless you went looking for them. Hearing about good food has always been something that has been spread by word of mouth. Recently we’ve seen recommendations move online as diners snap pictures of their grub and lash it straight up onto social media before the food has even been tucked into. I’d heard of Terre Madre in passing a few times, but it was only when a friend repeatedly suggested I go there that I went looking for it.
I knew it was over the river on Bachelor’s walk but I still had to use Google Maps to find the place. It turns out I’ve walked past it 100 times and never spotted the little restaurant down the tight staircase that holds about 10 people. When you walk inside you are immediately transported to Italy. You step in out of the rain after getting splashed by aggressive fuckers driving Dublin buses and people pushing past you with shopping bags to a warm Italian welcome. You might as well be sitting in the kitchen the place is that small, but that arms to the charm of it all.
The staff are charming and when ask what we’d like to drink I replied that I’d love a coke. Our waiter looked at me in disgust and said we could have either wine or tap water. “Grand so I’ll go with the water”. It normally pisses me off when places don’t serve soft drinks but they don’t mean to be snooty or cool in here, instead just knowing that their food is so good it should only be served with wine.
I had a mozzarella ball which came served with a selection of accompaniments that worked perfectly with it. Now we are not talking about the shitty plastic version you get in bags in the local supermarket here that was made in a factory in Dundalk and tastes about as appetising as chewing on a used condom. We are talking about the real deal. Creamy, soft and slightly chewy on the outside and the anchovy, basil, chicory and capers were all you needed with it. Typical Italians coming over and showing us how to cook with their amazing ingredients and simple cooking I thought! An impeccable and ultimately super brave starter.
For mains we had two plates of pasta. Again a simple tomato pasta was rich, tasty and perfectly cooked. Not rocket science but as good a plate of pasta as you’d find in Ireland. My own black truffle pasta was the stuff of gods. Little pillows of pasta that were so light they must have been made by the hands of twenty pure virgins while floating on a cloud. Everything was covered in delicious olive oil.
This is a bit of a special little spot and a wonderful find. The staff are ace and the ingredients top notch. I’m sure many of you will go there expecting amazing mind-blowing food with fancy garnishes and fancy names but it isn’t about that. Italian food, and Tuscan food in particular, is about keeping it all super simple. Terre Madre do that and throw in their own brand of unique hospitality to round it all off. I’m nearly sad to have to tell you about this place but the world does deserve to know in fairness. Top notch.