LIM­ER­ICK SLIGO

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS EATING OUT - AMcE AMcE

LA CUCINA

Uni­ver­sity Court, Castletroy, Lim­er­ick ¤ re­al­i­tal­ian­food­ies.com / face­book.com/lacucina When­ever I take a trip to Din­gle, which is usu­ally once a year for the Other Voices fes­ti­val in De­cem­ber, I make a pit­stop half­way to a lit­tle Ital­ian café off the mo­tor­way in Castletroy, Lim­er­ick. I first be­came aware of La Cucina through the blog and tweets of its owner Lor­raine Fan­neran. “@ital­ian­foodie will you have space for two hun­gry pizza lovers at around 2.30 this af­ter­noon?” I’d tweet, some­where around Ro­screa. “@aoife­fork­ful of course!” would come the re­ply. “We’ll get the dough ready for you.”

Lor­raine and her part­ner Bruno (the Pizza Boss and son of Ital­ian im­mi­grants ) opened La Cucina in a busi­ness es­tate in Castletroy in 2003, and have been dish­ing out freshly made piz­zas, great cia­batta sand­wiches and Ital­ian sal­ads ever since. It’s a ca­sual spot. In fact, it’s won Best Ca­sual Dining a cou­ple of times at the Ir­ish Restau­rant Awards. On a good day, the Lim­er­ick sun spills in through its win­dows into this small, buzzing space.

Their piz­zas range in price from just over ¤10 to ¤13.50 and all the clas­sics are there, from the margherita to the fiorentina. You can get a bowl of pasta am­a­tri­ciana (¤10.50) or a plate of br­uschetta parma (¤6.50).

They also launched their own range of Real Ital­ian Food­ies pasta sauces, which you can pick up at the shop or on their on­line store. This is a fam­ily busi­ness worth sup­port­ing. Go visit. And make sure you send them a tweet when you’re nearby.

SHELL’S CAFÉ AND LIT­TLE SHOP

Strand­hill, Co Sligo, 071-9122938 ¤ shellscafe.com Jane and Myles Lam­berth were look­ing for the good life and found it in Strand­hill, Co Sligo. They opened their sea­side café and bak­ery in 2006, think­ing it might be a sea­sonal gig and that they could spend the rest of the year surf­ing. But then they got re­ally busy. Turns out peo­ple travel for a great brunch.

This blue-hued café looks out onto the Sligo shore, and on a sunny day, you can sit out­side on their benches and feel like you’re living Jane and Myles’ dream. Take a walk around the beach and come back ready for nour­ish­ment.

They have spe­cials on ev­ery week. You might be lucky and catch their Buttermilk Pancakes with dry cured ba­con (¤6.95) or maybe their roast chicken, av­o­cado, hal­loumi, cheese and spicy mayo toastie (¤9.50 with a side salad and chips).

They love do­ing break­fast sal­ads as well; when I was last in I had a pork belly salad which came with chunks black pud­ding and a per­fectly poached egg. Woah, momma.

They’re open from 9am-6pm Mon-Sun­day, serv­ing break­fast, lunch and din­ner. There’s home­made cakes, Ir­ish-roasted cof­fee and glasses of wine on of­fer, too. They opened a shop next door sell­ing some of their favourite things. There’s food pro­duce, ce­ram­ics, fancy pa­per and other lovely things. Oh, and did I men­tion the cou­ple have writ­ten two cook­books? Turns out you can get a lot done when you’re living your dream.

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