Italian Quarter – Meet some of the businesses creating a slice of Italy in Dublin city centre

Behind Jervis Shopping Centre, in a small lane by the Quays, you’ll find Bloom Lane. Bloom Lane has been unofficially named ‘Italian Quarter’ due to an urbanisation project by Mick Wallace which saw the founding of multiple Italian businesses in Bloom Lane back in 2004.

Despite having multiple businesses, specifically restaurants, in the same vicinity who all cater to the same cuisine, the businesses that still stand since the opening of Italian Quarter are thriving.

Renato Papillo, co-owner of ‘Sfuso’ a hybrid Italian restaurant, deli, and wine bar, says that the area is good for business and competition isn’t an issue. “I think it helps actually, it gives some identity to the area,” says Papillo. 

‘Sfuso’ is understandably a popular establishment as they provide the true Italian experience with an impressive wine collection and authentic deli.

Though the shop has an authentic deli, which is a rare find here in Dublin, the wine collection is even more impressive. “We only sell our own wine, there’s nobody in the middle between us and the producer.” says Renato. Despite this, ‘Sfuso’ faced challenges through COVID like many other businesses, but they were able to adapt. “This place is open since 2003, before it was a proper wine bar with a full menu, up until COVID. Then we changed it a little bit to a different concept.”

Right across the lane, you can find ‘Bar Italia’ which is owned by David Izzo. David, who is from Rome, has been the only owner ever since the restaurant opened. ‘Bar Italia’ has an extensive but impressive authentic Italian menu. 

Mr. Izzo agrees that there are no issues with competition amongst the different businesses, especially since Bar Italia provides authentic Italian dishes, none of that creamy-chicken-carbonara nonsense. 

Bar Italia doesn’t entertain the Irish interpretation of Italian food – you definitely won’t find pepperoni pizza and chips here.

“Italian food is such a broad world which is so misinterpreted.” says David. A fascinating aspect of Bar Italia is that whenever David has a new chef, it’s up to the chef to adjust the menu to suit his cooking style. For example, the current chef is from Rome, therefore you can see authentic cuisine from Rome on the menu.

Despite the great cuisine seen in Italian Quarter today, there used to be many more Italian businesses when the concept first launched, but they’ve changed over the years. “We’re not really an Italian Quarter anymore, now we’re just two restaurants,” says Izzo. Mr. Izzo goes on to say that originally, the quarter also had an Italian barber, clothes shop, and football shop.

They’ve been replaced by business such as ‘Eyemazy’ and a shisha bar. “I’m happy to keep [calling it Italian Quarter] because we get business out of that, but it’s not really an Italian quarter anymore. […] It’s sad, we don’t want to lose our status,” says David.

Though the number of Italian businesses in Italian Quarter has diminished over the years, the quality of them certainly has not. Both businesses featured have an extensive but high-quality menu – especially in terms of wine. It’s hard to imagine that they’d go out of business anytime soon as they bring such a refreshing, diverse aspect to Dublin.

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