This Review of Etto Restaurant in Dublin, Ireland, is from our 2018 visit. Etto won “Restaurant of the Year” in the 2018 Irish Restaurant Awards and has been featured for several years as a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Restaurant (“exceptionally good food at moderate prices”) so I was looking forward to trying it. “Etto” in Italian is used to form the diminutive of words, and can add emotional endearment, for example “nonno,” grandfather, is more affectionate in the form “nonnetto,” little grandfather or grandpa.
Etto Location and Hours
Etto is located at 18 Merrion Row, a short walk from Dublin sights such as Trinity College, the National Museum of Archaelogy, National Gallery of Ireland, and the nearby St. Stephen's Green. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, closing at 9:30pm Monday-Wednesday, and at 10pm Thursday-Saturday.
I highly recommend making advance reservations, especially for dinner, because it's a small space, and very popular.
During our Saturday evening visit, most other diners were in their late 20s-40s, either couples or friends. My son was the only child, but we were warmly welcomed.
Etto Menu and Food
Etto's menu is market-driven and changes slightly daily, although a good number of favorites are usually kept.
The wine list is posted on the wall, with well-priced wines by the glass as well as carafes of wine available, primarily from Spain and Italy, although I chose a lovely Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
As you can see from the menu, many of Etto's dishes are Italian or Italian influenced. We started with a delicious starter of Stracciatella with vine ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, and crispy sourdough toasts topped with crispy sea spaghetti. The rich and creamy Stracciatella (typically the center part of Burrata cheese) were well complemented with the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes and the herbaceous notes of the basil, as well as the crisp textural contrast of the sourdough toasts and seaweed.
I was happy to see sweet breads on the menu, which I often only see on French menus, so I ordered them. While not a large dish, the crispy sweet breads were rich enough, especially with the silky olive oil potato puree, to be quite filling. The girolle mushrooms enhanced the satisfying earthiness of this dish.
My son's choice of Goat Cheese Malfatti, a kind of dumpling, seemed on paper not a very exciting main dish, but it was wonderful, and highly recommended whether you're a vegetarian diner or not. The dumplings were delicate and light textured, and the accompanying courgette (zucchini), pickled tomatoes and crunchy pinenuts made for a fresh from the garden, summery dish.
We ordered the unusual sounding Kohlrabi, radish, rocket, and caper salad, with paper-thin shavings of crunchy, fresh, and mildly spicy kohlrabi. It was lightly tossed with the rocket, thin slices of radish, capers, olive oil and a pinch of salt to make one of the most refreshing salads I've had. It was an especially good foil to the richness of the sweetbread dish.
While we certainly could have stopped there, we opted to share a dessert, the deceptively simple red wine poached prunes with vanilla mascarpone cheese. Don't let the few number of ingredients dissuade you–this is an incredible dessert, and a must-order, so save room. My son eyed it dubiously before tasting it, but ended up happily eating half of it.
It would be easy to miss Etto when walking past, as it's a small restaurant. But I highly recommend making an advance dinner reservation if planning a visit to Dublin. We loved all of the dishes we ordered, which used stellar fresh ingredients, were prepared well, and served with warmth and flair by our server. It's true that tables are rather close together, but given the excellent value of the quality dishes served, that slight con was more than compensated for.
What's your favorite cozy restaurant in Dublin?
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal at Etto.
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