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Pala Pizza Trattoria review: One dish is so delicious that we lick the plate shamelessly

This buzzy Italian specialises in pizza slices and small plates, making it equally good as a place for a quick bite with the kids or for a catch-up later with friends

Pala Pizza Trattoria
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Address: 3 Brighton Road, Foxrock, Dublin, D18 A972
Telephone: 01-2897711
Cuisine: Italian
Cost: €€€

If you’re a fan of Chef’s Table, the Netflix docuseries that most recently dissected the art of pizza-making, Gabriele Bonci will be a familiar name. He’s the chef who elevated Rome’s “al taglio” pizza from fast food to art. It’s a slice, not a pie, and the base is more like focaccia. It’s cooked in a long rectangular stretch, loaded with toppings, cut into rectangular slices with a scissors, and sold by weight.

There is, of course, considerably more to Bonci’s al taglio. The heritage flour is stone-ground in a Piedmont mill, his sourdough starter dates back to the first World War, and you are as likely to get chicken comb as mortadella as a topping. Anthony Bourdain got wind of this madness and popped in for a visit for his series The Layover; overnight the queues at Bonci’s Pizzarium made the Colosseum look like a sideshow.

Rory Shannon, the chef here, had always had an interest in al taglio pizza, but cooking it was not his plan. But a change of tack during the pandemic, serving al taglio pizza on a terrace of three parking spaces, indicated that Foxrock was ready for a change

Rory Shannon, the chef here, who returned to Dublin in 2019 after years in London, had always had an interest in al taglio pizza, but cooking it was not his plan. Nor was it his father’s plan for his first-floor, old-school restaurant, Bistro One. But a change of tack during the pandemic, serving al taglio pizza on a terrace of three repurposed parking spaces, indicated that Foxrock was ready for a change.

Bistro One is now Pala Pizza Trattoria. The carpets were ripped up, a pale wooden floor has been installed, and shiny new furniture populates the freshly painted room.


We arrive at the equivalent of feeding time at the zoo on a Saturday evening, with the exuberance of every well-behaved child in the neighbourhood reverberating off the hard, shiny surfaces. But it is not long till the al taglio–stuffed toddlers are evacuated, leaving a room of friendly local adults happy to maintain the decibel level.

As well as a broad selection of al taglio pizza, ranging from €2.50 to €6, there are antipasti, pasta and grilled meat and fish. The pickled vegetables and olives (€5) are just the thing to start, with a crunchy mouth-puckering sharpness that will certainly whip your taste buds into shape. A 500ml carafe of Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (€26) is good value from a list that cleverly offers all wines by the glass, carafe or bottle.

And then it is straight to the Roman pizza slices, which are served on a wooden board. The long ferment and high hydration level in this twice-baked dough result in a bubbly honeycomb texture and a crisp outside crust. It gets its first blast in a PizzaMaster oven at 3.30pm each day, and then a second bake once the toppings have been added to order.

From the rossa section, a finocchiona (€6) is piled with Tuscan fennel salami and marinated artichokes on a San Marzano sauce, in many ways more like an open sandwich than the customary pizza. The anchovy ricotta piazza blanca (€5) is fresh and delicious, with a perfect mix of light cheese and punchy flavours.

The pasta is what would be considered a primo-sized serving in Italy, so smallish for a main course. We share a primo course of tordelli (€15), handmade half-moon-shaped ravioli filled with meat and bathed in a ragu that has a serious level of flavour from pork, beef and chicken livers, leaving us licking the plate shamelessly.

We follow with a bone-in prime rib of Donabate Dexter (€36 for 300g), which has been charred on the Portuguese grill and kept nicely rare. It’s got great flavour, but we end up having it without our sides of potatoes, which we spot heading to another table.

The calzone dessert is pitched as an Italian answer to McDonald’s famous apple pie, which at €14 is very much a dish for two. It is most certainly large, varnished with a thick caramel sauce. As it is pizza dough, it is considerably breadier than its American counterpart, and the apple-to-crust ratio could be increased to allow for this.

Pala Pizza is solidly in the midprice tier, but the flexibility of pizza by the slice and small plates makes it the sort of neighbourhood restaurant you could pop into for a quick bite with the kids or a friendly catch-up later in the evening with pals. Just watch out for the potato snatchers — who, I see as we leave, have left our golden crusted tubers untouched. I’ve no idea who was charged for them. It wasn’t us.

Dinner for two with a carafe of wine was €107

Music: None at the earlier hours of the evening, perhaps it fires up later.

Food provenance: Ring’s Farm free-range chicken, Donabate Dexter beef, Wrights of Marino fish, Castleruddery vegetables.

Vegetarian options: Pickled vegetables, focaccia filled with aubergines and grilled tomatoes, suppli, fresh pasta with squash and sage, and pizzas, some of which are vegan.

Wheelchair access: No accessible room or toilet.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

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