Takeaway of the Week: A little pocket of Italy with the most divine food

This simple, family-owned caffe is utterly charming. Step inside, order and make an immediate escape to Italy

Il Fornaio Caffe
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Address: 16 College Green, Dublin 2
Telephone: N/A
Cuisine: Italian
Cost: €€

What’s on offer?

Holly Dalton, the chef behind Conbini Condiments, mentioned that Il Fornaio is one of her favourite takeaways. It is a tiny pocket of Italy on a busy stretch of College Green, and is utterly charming. It’s a simple, family-owned caffe and bakery that specialises in Italian pastries and panini (sandwiches) on focaccia or ciabatta bread with a wide variety of Italian meats and cheeses. It also sells coffee and specialist Italian grocery items.

What did we order?

Three panini, all on ciabatta: suckling pork (porchetta) with roasted onions and grilled peppers; “Bologna” – mortadella, provolone and roasted courgettes; and roast ham with provolone and tomato. And three pastries: pasticiotto, a breakfast pastry from Lecce; a caprese, a chocolate and almond cake; and a mignon, a small wafer roll filled with pistachio cream.

How was the service?

Friendly and welcoming, and happy to answer any questions about the wide variety of pastries. The sandwiches were made to order, which took a few minutes, but it’s a pleasant spot to sit and wait.

Was the food good?

Very good. The pork was the standout of the three sandwiches, warm slices of fennel-scented meat with roast peppers and roast onions, piled into a warm ciabatta. The roasted courgettes added a nice dimension to the mortadella in the Bologna; and the roast ham was a more straightforward sandwich. The pastries were delicious: most are baked on the premises, and those that aren’t are made in their own bakery near Dublin Airport. The pasticiotto was the favourite, with custard that was not too sweet and plenty of cherries.

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The pastries were delicious: most are baked on the premises, and those that aren’t are made in their own bakery near Dublin Airport

What did it cost?

Lunch for three was €35.40 – paninis, 3 x €8.50; pasticiotto €3.90; caprese €4; and mignon €2.

Where does it deliver?

The College Green caffe is takeaway-only. Il Fornaio also has four other locations: Dawson Street, Raheny, the IFSC and an Enoteca on Liffey Street.

Would I order it again?

Absolutely, particularly the pork sandwich and the pasticiotto. The only issue is trying to decide which among the many dozens of lovely things to order.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column