Ristorante Rinuccini, 1 The Parade, Kilkenny
Ristorante Rinuccini is an award-winning Italian restaurant in the heart of Kilkenny – it’s across from Kilkenny Castle, so you can’t get a more central landmark than that. In fact when Antonio and Marion Cavaliere opened the doors of Ristorante Rinuccini in 1989, it was the first Italian restaurant in Kilkenny! Over the years it has led by example, setting the bar high for restaurants in the city – awards and accolades have included ‘Chef of Year’, and being listed in a number of well-known food guides. the most prestigious being the Michelin Guide, where the restaurant has been listed for over 20 years.
My mum is from County Kilkenny, so Kilkenny City has never been a stranger to me. And with my fondness for the city as old as I am, it has become one of my most visited Irish cities over the years. Fast forward to nowadays and the Kilkenny City visits I once shared with my mother, have become visits that I share with my own children.
Our most recent Kilkenny City visit was, as they say, a flying visit. We had enough time on our hands to park the car, take a leisurely stroll through the city and dine out for lunch. As seasoned visitors we have in the past tried, tested and enjoyed our meals in a number of restaurants throughout the city.
And although I love venturing to pastures new, this particular day my heart and stomach was yearning for Italian food, and a revisit to Ristorante Rinuccini – my memory of the last family get together we had enjoyed there, and the restaurants glass bottom floor were becoming hazy, so I wanted to clear those clouds.
I usually phone our intended restaurant to book a table and enquire about suitability for our two little ones – on this day I didn’t. I did however enter the restaurant first to ensure a table was free, and a high chair available, and when I got the green light from the hostess that met me, we parked up the double buggy in the glass ceilinged snug at the entrance area (the perfect spot for an intimate lunch or dinner date) and made our way down the steps into the dining room of Ristorante Rinuccini.
The decor of the restaurant keeps in line with the authenticity of the Italian food served at Ristorante Rinuccini – it’s classic and classy. There are two floors to the restaurant, the glass floored one I mentioned earlier is the first floor and the custom-built floor display the restaurants Italian wine collection. The ground floor, which you could say is actually a basement floor because you take steps down to it is where we dined for lunch.
A high chair for Cassidy was provided, and a selection of fresh bread and butter was served. We also ordered a jug of water for the table and a glass of house red house, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG for me, the later went down a treat.
Ristorante Rinuccini don’t have a specific Children’s Menu, and I’m perfectly happy with that. Cassidy at fifteen months old, and Smith at three years old have a varied enough diet of vegetables, meats and fish that I knew we’d satisfy their little bellies. And we did. Following the fresh bread, butter and bread sticks, Smith enjoyed his favourite pasta dish – pasta rigata in pesto, with parmesan. While Cassidy made a very good effort on his meal of creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables, along with some tastings of meat from Patrick’s main meal.
Patrick and I decided to go for the lunch special of a two-course meal for €24.00. I chose the “Cocktail di Gamberi – Kilmore Quay Prawns, shredded crisp cos lettuce, classic Marie Rose sauce” with a surcharge of €4.00. It was light, the prawns were meaty, the ratio of Marie Rose sauce to prawns and lettuce was perfect. Patrick ordered the “Paté dello Chef – Homemade Irish chicken liver Paté, mixed leaves & warm garlic Ciabatta”. The paté was smooth and flavourful, and he enjoyed it with each taste of the warm garlic ciabatta, well the pieces of ciabatta that were left on his plate after Cassidy and Smith stole some.
You will know by now if you follow The Life of Stuff, that I gave up eating meat over a year ago. I still eat fish, making me a pescatarian, however I do switch between vegetarian and fish dishes daily. There were no pescatarian or vegetarian pasta dishes on the lunch menu, so I requested a vegetarian one from the Á la carte menu – “Rigatoni all’ Arabbiatta – Tubes of homemade free range egg pasta in a fresh tomato sauce with chilli and garlic” It was exactly what I wanted – perfectly cooked penne rigate in a tasty tomato sauce with a slight kick from the chilli and dusted with parmesan shavings (eating parmesan is a rare occurrence for me as it isn’t vegetarian but I made an exception).
Patrick ordered the “Costatino di Manzo – Braised Short Rib of Irish Beef, served with Parmesan Risotto and Montelpuiciano red wine sauce”. The meat was tender – even Cassidy enjoyed a nibble, the risotto was creamy, and the sauce was the perfect accompaniment. He cleared his plate happily.
Thankfully Patrick and I have two little superstars who ‘behave’ themselves when we dine out – but there are always warning signs to keep and eye out for that give us an indication it’s time to leave – and thankfully it’s normally when the plates have been cleared!
We enjoyed our family lunch at Ristorante Rinuccini. I do think a vegetarian pasta option should be available on the lunch menu. I also think the straps of the high chair need to be bleached. But they’re just side notes. The most important thing is that the food was delicious, the service was friendly and professional, the ambiance was a soothing break from the hustle and bustle of the city streets and we will return again, just as we did before.