My first encounter with Z Cucina in Dublin (Bridgepark) was very hurried and quite honestly, pretty unexpected. I actually had plans to meet friends at another restaurant in the area. I was literally running down the sidewalk with my one-year-old as it was the middle of February, and we were both absolutely freezing. I somehow became completely turned around and couldn’t find the restaurant that I was supposed to be going to — so I frantically darted into Z Cucina in an effort to take a short break from the cold, but also to ask for some directions.
As I walked through the door, I remember hoping that the restaurant staff didn’t think I was planning to eat there — as they would likely be annoyed that I was coming into a classy restaurant with a baby. As we walked in, we were immediately greeted by the restaurant owner, and he very enthusiastically asked if we’d like to be seated.
“Oh no,” I said. “I was just hoping that you could help me find another restaurant in the area.”
“Well, you’re already here,” he responded with a smile. “Why don’t you stay and have dinner?”
“I would love to,” I replied, “but I am already meeting friends elsewhere…. and I do have this one with me tonight (motioning to my daughter).”
His response very much surprised me. “Well, you should plan to come back! We have an awesome kid’s menu, high chairs – and we would love to have you!”
Never did I think that Z Cucina would be on my list of kid-friendly restaurants to try out, but his invitation gave me quite a bit of hope. Fast forward a few months – we’re looking for a restaurant to entertain some family coming into town, and that February incident popped back into my mind. We should check out Z Cucina! And, we did.
While I had my doubts, I was immediately reassured when we saw the owner as we walked through the door. While I am not sure if he remembered my daughter and I, he still greeted us just as enthusiastically as he did initially, sat us immediately (we had a reservation) and ensured that we were happy with our table location.
Our server was also fantastic — and helped us select some beverages and an appetizer to kick off our evening. While all of our drinks were stellar, I do want to highlight one in particular, the Italian Lemon Drop, which was the perfect refreshing blend of their housemade limoncello and sour mix, garnished with a lemon. It was almost too pretty to drink.
You all know that I love a good cheese plate, and I certainly can’t pass one up at an Italian restaurant if it’s on the menu, so we also started out with their Exquisite Cheese Plate. It was packed full of delicious cheeses (housemade, again) and bright, colorful pickled vegetables. The presentation was delightful — and our entire table gobbled it up.
The kids were thrilled that they had some of their favorites on the kid’s menu — a cheese pizza for Ellie and buttered noodles sprinkled with parmesan cheese for Jack. While Jack made a pretty good dent in his noodle dish, he couldn’t compete with Ellie, who CRUSHED her entire pizza 🙂
I am not even sure where to start with the main courses that we (the adults) ordered. Each was perfection. We ended up sharing a variety of different dishes, and while I do want to explore some of the other menu offerings, I could be perfectly content if we didn’t change a thing on our next visit.
Some of the highlights include the Linguine and Clams which was an explosion of bright flavors including fresh clams, roasted tomatoes, crispy sunflower microgreens and savory pancetta sprinkled among thick, housemade linguini.
We also tried the Sweet Pea Gnocchi which was a beautiful combination of snap peas, edamame and mushrooms atop sweet, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi. Another favorite among our table.
Finally, the Naturally Raised Chicken Parmigiana was the perfect compliment to our other entrees. Coated in mozzarella and pomodoro and plated atop bucatini pasta, this dish was the ideal addition to our trio.
Overall, a fantastic experience at a restaurant that I never thought we could venture out to with the kids. And even when our little one couldn’t handle sitting any longer, she was able to comfortably stroll the restaurant with Grandpa while we finished our meals 🙂