Dry arancini and tolerable cacio e pepe at an Italian restaurant that’s more hype than gumption

This review is the second among a set of two and a part of the Turned Tables series. You may find the first review in this set on Instagram.

The excitement I felt during my inaugural stride into Sprezzatura waned with a conviction similar to that of the people who recommended it. It took us longer than average to find our way to our table, mostly because the staff tend to operate in a confuddled manner. Also, over 15 minutes of waiting before finally catching a server’s attention seems too long for a restaurant that’s only moderately full. 

Tipples being on tap could’ve added much-needed charm, but the dreary serving manner corresponds to the overall plateau in mood. A look at the food menu was able to revive some gusto, but we felt beyond shortchanged when our dishes arrived. Neither did any of them live up to their respective photos online, nor did they blow us away with great taste that a lot of reviews otherwise claim. 

All three of the arancini pappa al pomodoro were really coagulated risotto with a brittle breadcrumb coating instead of the moist, cheesy spheres they should’ve been. The accompanying sauce was less disappointing, but still unremarkable. Just when we thought the roasted asparagus with parmesan might prove a palate saviour, we saw it for what it was: more microgreens than parmesan. Although the attempt to salvage the dish’s arid appearance is understandable as an afterthought, the negligible use of garlic and salt isn't.

An Italian restaurant’s cacio e pepe failing to impress is a clear sign of its fundamentals needing work. While it was okay to eat, there’s miles better cacio e pepe to be had in Ireland. The care taken to ensure that the spaghetti was al dente was its only redeeming quality. 

A resolute fear of disappointment had set in by the time we were ready to order dessert, and we went with a cup of strawberries and cream because it takes less skill than tiramisu. The strawberries were regular and the cream fluffy enough, but that’s more an acknowledgment of the bare minimum than a compliment. 

How Sprezzatura has managed to please a substantial section of Dublin’s population is beyond me. I haven’t eaten at Padella in London yet, but I saw some positive comparisons being drawn. Unless the kitchen can up its game enough to have people queueing like they do near the more esteemed Borough Market heartthrob, I’ll continue to say that it wins neither at style nor substance. 

Bill for two 
Arancini pappa al pomodoro€6.50
Roasted asparagus with parmesan€6.95
Cacio e pepe€11.95
Wexford strawberries and Irish cream€3.95
Glass of chardonnay€8.50
Camden Market 5/6
D08 FYK8
Dublin 8