06 February 2016

Is Bray the Italian culinary
capital of Ireland?

Evening lights on the shore in Bray (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

Could be Bray be the Italian food capital of Ireland?

Over the last few years, I have enjoyed many fine Italian meals and more than my share of good double espressos in Bray.

The places I have enjoyed in particular include Carpe Diem on Albert Avenue, Caffé Letterario Gatta Nera on Albert Walk, and Gusto Italiano on Goldsmith Terrace, and I was sorry to see Palazzo on Strand Road close in recent years.

This afternoon, three of us planned a late lunch in Carpe Diem, but it was closed when we got there, and so for the first time we visited Campo De’ Fiori across the road, on the corner of Albert Avenue and Strand Road.

Campo De’ Fiori Restaurant has an intimate atmosphere and shares a passion for Italian food (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Campo De’ Fiori Restaurant and Risto Market is renowned in Dublin, Wicklow and around the country for serving the highest quality authentic Italian food, in an intimate atmosphere.

Campo De’ Fiori is owned by Laura and Marco Roccasalvo, and they have a welcoming and enthusiastic Italian staff. Marco is also the head chef, and has 20 years of experience in restaurant life in both Italy and Ireland.

With its secret corners, hidden nooks and crannies, small shopping area and sheltered street-side balconies, Campo De’ Fiori Risto is a visible invitation to explore Italian wines and cuisine and to set out on a culinary trip to Italy. It is typical of Marco’s passion for authentic Italian food that in 2014 he published his second cook book, Buon Appetito.

Campo De’ Fiori opened in June 2004 and takes its name from a well-known square in Rome. The name means “field of flowers” and in ancient times the square was decorated with daisies, poppies and wild flowers.

As well as timeless, traditional Italian dishes such as Bistecca alla Fiorentina and TiramisĂș, there are many personal interpretations of authentic Italian recipes, which display the passion Marco, Laura and the staff have for the food of Italy.

A taste of Italy in Campo De’ Fiori (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

In 2006, Campo De’ Fiori received the Silver Plate award from the Accademia della Cucina Italiana as the Italian restaurant in Ireland that works with the greatest respect for the Italy’s culinary tradition.

Between us we had Melanzane alla Parmigiana – baked layers of aubergines, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, served with bread and salad; Tonnarelli al Fuoco – a speciality Marco found in Salina, one of the Aeolian islands off the coast of Sicily, made with homemade Tonnarelli, fresh cherry tomatoes, baked ricotta cheese, Pecorino, a mix of herbs, and a taste of chilli; and a pizza with cheese and olives.

I also had a glass of Pinot Grigio and two of us had double espressos.

Later, when we went for a walk on the beach, the lights were dimming and darkness was falling on the shoreline and Bray Head. But the sound of the waves could he heard rolling in on the pebbles and shoreline, and the sky was the blue of a clear winter’s night.

An invitation to taste Italian wines in Campo de’ Fiori (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

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