The two creators of Osteria Lucio founded the restaurant upon a simple idea, summed up simply as "an Irish chef meets an Italian chef to cook great quality Irish ingredients through an Italian prism".
These are the words of Ross Lewis, co-founder of the authentic Italian restaurant alongside Luciano Tona. The formers – best known to Dubliners as the man behind Chapter One – brought his expertise to the table, while the latter brought his vast knowledge of Italian culinary arts.
Both chefs are of Michelin star pedigree, with Lewis's Chapter One regarded as one of the finest in the country, while Tona's restaurant La Fermata in Casatenovo retained a Michelin star for more than a decade.
The pair are currently putting together an exciting new menu, one that stays true to their ethos of authenticity, for The House of Peroni, which has been described as "a two-week residency showcasing the best of contemporary Italian food, drink and design" this May at 1 Dame Lame.
The story of Osteria Lucio is as much a tale of the friendship between two men as it is of the marriage of the tastes of two countries. The pair first met one another in 1998 when they met through mutual friend Manuela Spinelli – best known as the former interpreter for Giovanni Trapattoni, at a dinner in Chapter One.
It was during this chance encounter that the two discovered a shared passion for their roots and the idea of dishes made with local identity, the start of an exchange of ideas that would one day culminate in the Osteria Lucio.
Lewis said of their collaboration:
I’ve known Luciano for almost 20 years, and in that time I've gained an understanding of what type of person he is. I totally respect his integrity and vast food knowledge.
This sense of friendship can be felt in the restaurant's atmosphere, channelling the social element of a traditional Italian meal. Tona says his food is meant be shared, crafting menus that will get people talking around the table and build relationships.
"Simple compositions are the best," says Tona, and the menu reflects his maxim.
Dishes like their Tendesterm broccoli with goat cheese, smoked almonds and honey-mustard dressing is a masterpiece of a starter, getting you excited to try their Margherita pizza, topped with tomatoes that are barely even crushed into a sauce.
Our very our Niall Harbison described it as the best pizza sauce he's ever tasted in Ireland.
It's the quality with which they deliver the simplest of dishes that sets them apart, the quality of our locally-sourced produce.
While Tona couldn't bring himself to pick a personal favourite from the menu, Lewis admitted his most loved item on the menu has to the potato gnocchi with monkfish and caper aioli, for its immediately apparent "balance and elegance".
The people of Ireland seem to have a special place in their hearts for Italian food, and Lewis has an interesting theory as to why that is.
I guess it’s our love of starch, possibly through the historic affinity with the potato or indeed the love of that moreish combination of sauce and starch… as far as I can see most Irish children are being brought up on pasta rather than potatoes.
Having recently taken on Filipo Tawil, previously a head chef Tano's restaurant in Casatenovo, the pair continue to show their dedication to upholding the principles upon which their restaurant was founded.
If you're a lover of Italian cuisine at its finest, Lewis explains why Osteria Lucio should be next on your Dublin hit list.
The exchange of food is not just about flavours, but also an exchange of friendship, knowledge and tradition, that's what we're aiming for.
PERONI NASTRO AZZURRO
The House of Peroni opens to the public for a two-week residency at 1 Dame Lane in Dublin city centre from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 and from Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 May.
It will be spread across several floors with innovative bars, creative spaces and a glamorous rooftop terrace for al fresco drinks and dining. The main bars will be open to the public each night with no booking required, while a series of exclusive, ticketed events will also take place during the two-week residency.
No admission fee to the main bar and no booking required. Over 18s only.