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Leeside food hero Mirco Fondrini gets his name above the door in the lovely da Mirco

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Here’s what you will be saying to your friends after dinner in Cork’s da Mirco Osteria:
“Abbiamo passato la serata in allegria”: We had a really joyful evening.
The key word here, the key term that defines Mirco Fondrini’s lovely eating house, is: allegria. It means happiness, cheerfulness, joy, and M. Fondrini brings you to that state thanks to joyful cooking, effervescent wines, and his own buoyant, soulful service.
The room, on Cork’s Bridge Street, just up the street from the River Lee, could not be simpler: if have eaten in osterias in Italian cities and towns, then you will welcome its simplicity, its undecorated charm, its candour. This is a happy room in which to eat.
And you will welcome, especially, the fine cooking. Over six starters, six main courses, and a pair of sides and salads, M. Fondrini and his team show us the art and craft of Italian cooking and eating.
The best Italian food is simple food, and that is what you get at da Mirco. The fresh pastas come with a white ragu, or with tomato, olive and capers, or with vodka and smoked salmon, with a daily special which was a fulsome lasagne laden with three cheeses – M. Fondrini hails from Valtellina in Northern Italy, where the cooking is hearty, and no one will leave here feeling hungry: this is generous grub, and it makes for lush eating.
So, we tore into the aperitivo da Mirco, a lovely melange of northern Italian cheeses, olives, marinated tomatoes, intriguing fishcakes and salamis with fine focaccia. The tagliatelle with mixed meat ragu was bounteous, the ravioloni with butternut squash was precise and expert, the 3 cheese lasagne is the stuff of Wallace & Gromit dreams: oh, that was lovely cheese!
Of course, you have to try the tiramisu – light, delicate – the affogato, and the blood orange sorbet, all of them good, and with Mirco’s wine recommendations on board, the allegria in da Mirco flows as steadily as the River Lee. After all his years as host in Cork’s Farmgate Café, it is marvellous to see M. Fondrini step out and put his name over the door, so do not miss da Mirco!
 

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