I was invited to meet with Alex, the owner of DinaDina who was keen to share his passion for home cooked Italian. I had heard of DinaDina but had never paid a visit. I knew that the restaurant has won several awards- best world cuisine in the Irish Restaurant Awards and best street food in the YesChef awards so a visit was long overdue.
I took Mr. Eating Ideas along. He is my favourite dining partner as he is brutally honest about what he likes and doesn’t like. Sometimes I think he may be missing the tact gene but he is good for some genuine feedback! We arrived just after the lunchtime rush and our welcome couldn’t have been warmer. Alex asked us if we were happy for him to surprise us and we were up for that. With no idea what to expect, we sat back and took in our surroundings, wooden tables and counters, unique wall art and awards displayed on the walls- all good so far.
Alex joined us and explained that we were going to be sampling traditional Piadinas. These filled flatbreads date back as far as 1371 and are common in Italy. The best part of the Piadina is that the bread is cooked from scratch using flour, water, extra virgin olive oil and salt and baked fresh every time you place your order. This is a far cry from the bread that we have become accustomed to in Northern Ireland. Alex then presented us with a selection of his favourite Piadinas from the menu: The Classica with rocket, Parma ham, Mozzarella cheese and cocktail sauce, the Ciccio with home made Italian sausage, roasted peppers, Scamorza smoked cheese, and BBQ sauce, the Gallo with marinaded chicken fillet, roasted peppers, Scamorza smoked cheese and spicy garlic oil (it normally comes with sweet chilli sauce but Alex suggested this serving for us) and the Milano with Salami, rocket and Mozzarella cheese. These were delicious and the lightness of the home cooked bread allowed the fresh ingredients to shine through. Even when we had eaten enough, we kept lifting them for one more bite. I have to say that normally bread leaves me feeling bloated and tired but freshly cooked flatbread without yeast was really light but fulfilling. Mr Eating Ideas and I had some debate about which was our favourite and we honestly couldn’t decide.
Alex then produced 2 meatballs for us to sample. I’m not a fan of meatballs in general as they can be heavy and hard to chew but these were as light as air and delicious too!
Although we were full at this stage, Alex insisted that we at least try some traditional home-made Italian pudding. He produced some Salame de Chocolato (chocolate Salami) and a portion of Tirimisu. The Salame de Chocolato, actually does resemble Salami and is biscuity in texture. It tastes pretty good too and is ideal if you just want a taste of something sweet at the end of your meal. The Tirimisu was a triumph. I normally find it too strong and the alcohol overwhelming. This was prepared in the traditional way with no cream and no alcohol involved. The puddings come served in a takeaway container allowing you to eat as much as you can manage and enjoy the rest later.
This is probably the most authentic Italian food that I have tasted outside Italy. I urge you to give it a try, you won’t regret it. Myself and Mr. Eating Ideas will definitely be back.
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