Osteria Lucio: Ross and Luciano are birthing their new Dublin baby, slowly.

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The Italians would have a word for Ross Lewis: lento. Slowly.
Things are proceeding slowly at Osteria Lucio – the former Pizza E Porchetta – as the new restaurant on Grand Canal Quay transitions from the old restaurant under the aegis of Mr Lewis and his partner, Luciano Tona.
We have never seen this happen before in an Irish restaurant, with one identity and content slowly being shed as a new identity and content gradually takes over. It's not an opening-and-closing: it's a transitioning, a slow makeover of each detail of the room, the menu, the drinks, the style, the cooking. It's an ingenious move, and we suspect that it isn't easy. Except that they are doing it lento: step by step, and we suspect that even in a year's time they might still be tweaking, revising, improving.
But that style of slowly-does-it laid the groundwork for the success of Chapter One, as Mr Lewis patiently discovered his own culinary personality way back in the early 1990's. So the changes here are already profound, and Mr Lewis and Mr Tona are striding towards a personal definition of Italian osteria cooking.
As befits an Osteria, there is nothing radically new on the menu. Osteria cookery is more about dialect, about accent, than about language. The language is understood – cicchetti; pastas; salumi; pizzas; fritto misto; arancini; affogato. It's how you phrase the cooking, how you accent it, that counts. On that score, Lucio has already found its voice, and you see it straight away with wood-roasted olives with orange peel, fennel and rosemary, and subtle arancini with radicchio and gorgonzola, and good fritto misto of broccoli, asparagus, squid, white fish, and a super agrodolce sauce of honey and vinegar. The year's most fashionable vegetable, salt-baked celeriac, comes with walnut pesto and pancetta and grated egg and is very fine. Then everything steps up a gear as we try ricotta gnocchi with tomato and spinach, lamb and mint tagliatelle with Pecorino, and chitarra with crab with shelled broad beans, courgette and chilli, all beautifully rendered.
By contrast to the confidence of the pasta dishes, a pizza with broccoli raab and Italian sausage simply doesn't have the right crust, but a vanilla semifreddo with nutella ganache and coffee soil is right on the money.
A lot done, more to do is the method at Lucio and, when the service and the drinks are ironed out, the only problem we can forsee will be the difficulty in getting a table.
Osteria Lucio, The Malting Tower, Clanwilliam Terrace, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin 2 www.osterialucio.com Tel: (01) 662 4199.

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