All about the pizza in Deansgrange
What’s the story?
Let's get one thing off our chests. The only reason we made a pilgrimage to Fellini's in Deansgrange near Blackrock is because the anonymous 'Pizzas Of Dublin' Instagram account said it was the best pizza they'd had in the city so far. If that's not enough to have us whipping out the phone to make a booking what is.
Fellini's is very much under the radar when it comes to Dublin's restaurants. It seems like your typical neighbourhood Italian, and apart from one (albeit glowing) review from Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent in 2015, they haven't exactly managed to clock up the column inches since being opened by Emilia Macari and Paolo Di Adamo in 2014. We set off like voyagers to new lands, hoping for the discovery of a lifetime.
Where should we go for a drink first?
There's one pub nearby called The Grange which we did not frequent but looks like old-man central. Apart from that you're in between a pet shop and a car garage so it's not exactly rife for cocktails. Have a drink at home or wherever you're coming from.
What's the room like?
Compact and cosy with only 28 seats. Definitely make a booking as it fills up fast. It's not the most luxurious of surroundings, which means you're unlikely to settle in for the night, and that's probably how they want it. If you have a choice opt for a window table. You won't be looking at canals but still...
What's good to eat?
Clearly we were here for the pizza, but wanted to take the rest of the menu for a test drive too. We started with homemade arancini, and were pleasantly surprised at how good they were - perfect rice with a bite, oozing cheese and a crispy shell. We were expecting meat inside too, but then after two out of three had been eaten they brought a small plate of bolognese that they said should have come on the plate. It was bland and muted and didn't add anything to the dish, so it wasn't much of a loss. The garlic mayonnaise that came on the plate (however unorthodox) was better dipping foil.
Bruschetta had good bread and olive oil but the hunt for ripe, sun-drenched tomatoes continues (they also needed salt), and if you're wondering where all the balsamic glaze from the 1990's went, they have it in Fellini's.
We tried three pizzas, and left kicking ourselves for one of them not being a margherita. The base on all of them was perfect, expertly cooked, great crumb and good chew. For a more in depth analysis on topics including hydration see what Pizzas Of Dublin had to say here. The tartufato with mushrooms, truffle, sausage meat and parmesan had tonnes of well-married flavour but was very rich. One to share or take some home, or you might end up with the late night truffle sweats.
The 'vegetariana' showed the quality of the bright tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella to full effect, hence post-eating margherita-missing regret, but at least we got some of our five-a-day.
Then came the curveball. We'd ordered the 'Caprese DOC' thinking it would be similar to a margherita, but it was more like a flatbread with caprese salad on top. Once you get past the "where's my delicious tomato sauce and melty cheese!" shock and reframe your thinking, it was excellent. The tomatoes tasted riper than those on the bruschetta, the mozzarella was first rate and so was the olive oil drizzled over the top. And no balsamic glaze, winning. On a summer's day at an outside table this would be hard to beat.
We tried a token pasta 'Norcina', with minced Italian sausage, tomato, cream and parmesan cheese, and while it was enjoyable (if again very heavy) it wouldn't be the thing drawing us back, and we imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to make something similar at home. There were other specials on the night which also sounded appealing, so if returning we'd be tempted to give those a try.
Dessert of tiramisu was of the 'child-friendly' i.e. no alcohol variety, and was as good as any in this category we've tried. Properly soaked sponge, creamy and chocolatey, but we do miss the Marsala in these teetotal versions.
Another dessert of canoli, tube shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with sweetened mascarpone cheese, was slightly less successful. The tubes had either been pre-filled (a cardinal mistake) or weren't fresh enough, and lacked the essential crispness that make canoli so addictive. The best we've had here are found in Dolce Sicily if you want to try the real deal - but always ask for one to be filled fresh when you order.
What about the drinks?
The wine list is mostly suburban central but there are some very respectable bottles on there so you won't be stuck for something to drink, and the prices are the type rarely found on wine lists these days. We drank a very acceptable catarratto for under €25, and also tried a glass of nero d'avola. Both tasted like really good house wine, with prices to match. A limoncello brought with the bill was a lovely touch, but it wasn't cold enough, which made drinking it more of a hardship than it should have been.
And the service?
Lovely. Polite, welcoming, helpful. Couldn't fault it.
Italian food is still an Irish favourite judging by our mailboxes and the amount of message that come in looking for recommendations for "a nice Italian". Fellini's is a nice, neighbourhood Italian, and while there are more exciting places to eat regional Italian food in the city (who threw the balsamic glaze in the bin long ago), they have the pizza nailed. For this and a bottle of decent Nebbiolo or Etna Rosso we'd be back.
35 Dean's Grange Road, Kill of the Grange, Blackrock, Co. Dublin fellinisdublin.com