I noticed another new sign over the door at the corner of Buttermilk Walk and decided to see what brave soul has started a new venture in the foodie world. Once inside I recognised Gerry McMahon, who worked for many years with his brother JP in Cava. As the name suggests Il Vicolo is mainly Italian; the chef, I discovered, is a native of Naples and a third generation keeping up this tradition in his family. The feeling you get is of a small New York café and it has been redecorated very carefully to create a nice atmosphere. This is one very difficult part of designing a new interior and he seems to have pulled it off. The background music was nice jazz which helps to create a comfy feeling when you enter.
It is open six days a week, starting with an interesting breakfast selection that includes cinnamon and ricotta pancakes €5.95, oven baked eggs and Italian bacon with grilled mushrooms €7.50, scrambled eggs with Parma ham and truffle oil €7.50, and omelette with porcini mushrooms, artichokes, and truffle oil €8.50. The coffee is one that is new to me, called Jerio, apparently it is a tiny coffee business in Italy that roasts the coffee every week and dispatches in small quantities to keep it as fresh as possible when used. The taste is excellent and I reckon coffee addicts will like it. While I was there I was amazed at the number of people who walked in to buy a takeaway coffee, so the word must be out that it is good.
I sampled the minestrone soup and it is the real deal, loads of garlic, beans, pasta, and veggie bits with a made in Italy taste, €4.75. A bowl of this on a miserable day would set you up. There is daily special deal of soup plus any bruschetta or pannini plus a coffee for a tenner, and that’s available every day which I have to say is good value.
I decided to go for the special pasta of the day, linguine Veronese, wilted zucchini, toasted pine nuts, and homemade basil pesto, €12.50. It was a generous portion and delicious, the homemade pesto really made the dish. There are two pasta specials each day and they are usually around a tenner. A nice touch is when you ask for water you get a carafe of filtered tap water with fresh mint, all without being asked if you would like bottled water in a way that sometimes makes me feel like I’m being a miser asking for tap water. The wine list is quite extensive and the really nice part about it is the fact that several wines are available by the glass in three different measures, and of course three different prices. This means you can have a wine to match your starter and a different wine to match your main dish, all without breaking the bank. The list is created to function as a wine bar at night with a good variety that would work well with and without food. There are several plates of mixed cheeses, mixed salamis, and antipastas that would be a perfect match with several of the wines.
There will be a wine of the week each week and Gerry McMahon plans for that to be a permanent part of the offer so regulars will always have something different to try. I had a look at the nighttime menu but as it changes all the time it is only an indication of what you can expect. Baked gnocci with prosciutto and boccarino mozzarella, €15.50; baked aubergines stuffed with pine nuts, risotto, and parmesan finish, served with fennel and rocket salad, €14.50; and a chicken casserole with spicy Italian sausage and potato, €16.50.
I feel that Gerry and his partner Aoife have created a package that will work well, a lot of thought has gone into it, particularly some of the smaller details, and I wish them well. The telephone number is 091 535922 and the address is Buttermilk Walk which is beside the Augustinian Church or, as is known by the locals, The Auggie.