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OverviewA love affair that began in the 90s has resulted in a fine marriage; not just between two people who fell in love, but in the harmonious relationship of homegrown food and fine wines served in an Italian atmosphere at Toscana Restaurant.
Dee and PJ Betuci’s Toscana Restaurant represents the perfect balance of authentic Italian food created with love and care, using local Irish meats and fish, and an envious gathering of homegrown produce grown from the family farm at home in County Wicklow.
Toscana sits on lively Dame Street in the heart of Dublin City, very close to all the sights and shopping areas of the city centre. Its small doorway is unobtrusive and it belies the passionate ethos and superlative menu offered here.
Dee is a homegrown Dublin girl and PJ is a Dubrovnik-born chef of Italian grandparents. The two met during years of working for other establishments in the hospitality industry. PJ had been used to fresh produce from the home garden and Italian cuisine from his mother’s kitchen. Dee has fond memories of working on her dad’s allotment. When they decided to open their own place in 2002, there was no arguing that the cooking should be Italian, and that the fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs should come from their own garden.
To that end, they renovated a farmhouse in Wicklow the same year they opened the restaurant. The gardens were accordingly planted with salads and other crops to feed the restaurant kitchens and meet the exacting standards of head chef PJ. Over a decade later, an acre of very productive land and polytunnels at home supply herbs, salad leaves, courgettes, traditional vegetables, tomatoes and other produce in season. The Betuci’s own flock of rare breed hens lays beautiful free range eggs which are used in the homemade pastas and in baking. All this home-produced fare complements well-aged beef sourced from a longstanding Dublin supplier, plus fresh seafood from top quality Irish suppliers. Foraged fruits for desserts and homemade cordials come from PJ, who is often to be found climbing a random tree if he sees something interesting growing on it! This man is passionate about food in the best of ways. He also makes his own crème de menthe from the leaves of the rampant mint bed at their home.
Once you do find that front door and step inside Toscana, you step into what could be a typical trattoria in Italy. The interior is cosy and welcoming. Staff are attentive and enthusiastic. Dee is a genial and professional hostess in the dining room. Personal service is paramount to the experience at Toscana. Waiting staff glide around the room under the expert eye of Dee. Food is simple, in keeping with the best cuisine of Italy, using the freshest of ingredients.
Lunch during the working week offers a good value menu. Those who can’t actually make it to the restaurant can preorder for corporate deliveries or for collection for smaller orders. Saturday and Sunday lunches are set menus at great prices that change weekly, so it’s impossible to predict what you might find, but you can be sure it will be seasonal and filled with homegrown goodness.
For dinner, the lights are dimmed, the candles come out and Italy comes to life in the ambience. A full à la carte menu needs to be browsed thoroughly before decisions are made. Irish beef, fish and corn-fed chicken are given the Italian treatment. Risottos, salads, and homemade stone baked pizzas all feature. Desserts are rich and made with those home laid eggs. What more could you wish for?
Well, perhaps some nice wine to go with it all. And this you will get. The Dee and JP are keen wine buffs and have a very enthusiastic sommelier employed at Toscana. His wealth of knowledge and love of the job, partnered with Dee and PJ’s own wine experience, has resulted in an impressive list of wines garnered directly from Italian winemakers. House wines are more than affordable, with plenty offered by the glass, plus some half bottles, too. Expect all the classics of Italy, and some new discoveries as well. The Toscana blackboards normally boast about the wine of the month at a special price, so you can try something new every time.
Italian wine tasting evenings are extremely popular here. They include a visit and talk from a producer supplier plus a five-course tasting menu with wines to match. These are ticketed events, purchasable online, and generally get booked out pretty quick. Wine events are promoted via the Toscana website, giving ample notice so you can get your tickets fast.
Toscana Restaurant is a charming and authentic Italian “farm to table” restaurant with wonderful homegrown food and a terrific wine offering.
“The passion for growing expanded over the years as our customers enjoyed what we produced and so demand grew naturally.”
Dee and JP cook with honest produce with no nasty sprays. The restaurant aims to bring thoughtfully produced food and ingredients from their gardens into the heart of Dublin City Centre. Much of the way the farm has evolved is to rotovate sections of growth which maintains the ground’s nutrients. Producing great quality seasonal produce to complement their menus. Fresh farm fare is packed with nutrients and they grow up to 70% of their own produce, celebrating the best from Irish soil on Italian menus.
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