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If you now love laid-back outdoor eating, this is your spot

Review: A pizza and cocktail haven for a casual meal in Dublin 7

Outdoor dining at Bonobo restaurant in Dublin 7. Photograph: Damien Eagers
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Address: 19 Church Street Upper, Smithfield, Dublin 7
Telephone: None
Cuisine: Italian
Cost: €€

Bonobo in Smithfield slipped onto my radar during the most recent lockdown. Not just because of the unusual name – a bonobo is apparently our closest relative in the animal kingdom – but also because of its pop-ups with Neighbourhood Wine, managed by Joey Scanlon, the former sommelier in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, and Dublin Pizza Company, the highly rated Aungier Street wood-fired pizza takeaway.

So, it was on my list to check out for a casual midweek bite. Booking online was a little unusual, and somewhat vetted: “Thank you for your inquiry, we will be in touch shortly. Please note this booking is not yet confirmed.” I have no idea how these bookings are reviewed but, fortunately, my fake name made the cut.

It is busier than I had expected when we arrive for a 6pm booking. The interior is impressive, all dark wood, vaulted ceilings and original floorboards, with a long sweep of a bar flanked by numerous beer taps on one side and bar stools on the other, and an impressive line-up of spirits on back-lit shelves. There are also two other quirky rooms; but for food, it is out to the sizable beer garden.

It is millennial and hipster in the nicest possible way. Cascading creepers clad the high walls, there are tropical trees in planters, and delicate orange flowers with green leaves curled into ringlets dripping down from baskets overhead. It is no surprise that a plant shop, Potty Mouth, was also one of the pop-ups here during lockdown.


Charcoal and ochre checkered paving slabs on the ground make it look particularly smart, and seating is at industrial benches for six people. As if they had some premonition of what was to come, a retractable roof with a heater for each table was installed in 2019.

The large green Pavesi pizza oven is housed in a garden kitchen, and the crew at Bonobo now man the oven, having bought it from Dublin Pizza Company.

Big trays of craft beer and cocktails are winging their way to the various tables, but not much wine. The Neighbourhood Wine tie-in, I discover, is no more. The list is looking a bit sparse, but the cocktails, mostly around the €12 mark, look interesting, as does the impressive list of craft beers, which includes White Hag, Whiplash and Kinnegar.

Simple menu

The menu here is simple, with six pizzas ranging from €12-€14, a house salad and a garlic focaccia. They land on our table in cardboard boxes, all looking suitably mottled from the blistering heat of the wood-burning oven. The base, made from Italian Caputo 00 flour, has been fermented for 24 hours, and left for a further 24 hours to develop flavour and that all important elastic texture that you expect from a Neapolitan-style pizza.

That flavour is important when your topping is on the more subtle side of things, and perhaps even more so when you’re doing a carb-on-carb pile-on with potatoes. But the potato and pancetta pizza is our favourite of the three we try. There’s quite a bit of texture from crispy bits of rosemary roasted potato; pancetta brings a smoky richness; and fior de latte and mozzarella add a creamy, slightly lactic note.

In second place is the sausage pizza, with White Mausu peanut rayu adding a real kick to the Calabrian sausage, mozzarella and caramelised onion. Our third pizza, pepperoni, is just a little bit wet from over-topping on a soggy base, making it difficult to eat. There is plenty of spice from the Ventricina salami, as well as from jalapenos and nduja cream, but the base just feels a bit doughy and could have done with a little more time in the oven.

While I wouldn’t typically have a cocktail with pizza, it is worth considering here because they are really well made. There are some nice twists, like the spicy Margarita, where a subtle splash of passion fruit brings out the spiciness of a padrón pepper, and a pineapple Margarita which is surprisingly good. Not even distantly related to a Piña Colada.

There is little that is more relaxing than heading out for pizzas, pints and cocktails with a group of friends, and while I wouldn’t put this at the top of the pizza list, if you’ve grown to love the laid-back vibe of eating outdoors, this is your spot as we head into the cooler months. And as a bonus, well-behaved dogs are invited too.

Pizza for three, cocktails and one beer was €73.50

  • The verdict A cosy outdoor space for casual dining
  • Facilities Smart, with a candle for atmosphere
  • Music Very much in the background
  • Food provenance Italicatessen and Little Italy as sources
  • Vegetarian options Vegetarian and vegan options
  • Wheelchair access A wheelchair accessible toilet in the front snug and half the building is completely accessible
Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

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