Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: George Voronov
Sprezzatura gives an effortlessly cool aura. The kind that only comes when you are confident in what you are doing. The space announced itself on the restaurant scene in 2019 like a nod from a hot stranger that makes you feel attractive. You couldn’t help but be drawn to it.
Since then, they have gone from strength to strength. From expanding to a second location to diversifying into locally sourced chicken burgers in Spatched. The team have had their finger on the pulse in a way that very few affordable restaurants have.
Collaboration like this series of specials in aid of the Dublin Simon Community is fundamental for the evolution of the Irish food scene. I’ve written before about how Dublin is ripe for cross-pollination. Here it excels and exceeds my high expectations when it was first announced. Gastro Gays are well-known in the online food world. From their vibrant Instagram presence to their book Hot Fat to their newsletter Chip Paper and more; they have the kind of energy that draws you into them.
But what they don’t have is a restaurant. Or a line of sauces, dips, and chicken nuggets is a crying shame. So here we get to taste the genius of this dynamic duo without having to cook ourselves.
I am a Hot Fat fan and even borrowed a deep fat fryer so I could try out their recipes. But I could never shake the notion that theirs is probably better. They are the experted professionals. Here at Sprezzatura, you can taste their creativity with the proficiency of professional cheffing sans washing up. The achievable dream of the week.
Hilariously the lads weren’t aware they would be the FIRST in the series. They were feeling a “tinge of added pressure”. That said they were optimistic lots of people will come out to support and try this dish this week in their nearest outpost of Sprezzatura.
This special comprises Pappardelle (fat pasta ribbons), Beef, Black Pudding and Stout Ragù. Like all good meals, it is far more than the sum of its parts.
The dish itself has been in development for a while. Sprezzatura reached out to their featured guests to make this list of specials two months before this week’s launch. While some of them came in a little off the wall and quite complicated, this one is the essence of Gastro Gays’ cooking. Deceptively simple, fun, tasty with junk-in-the-trunk flavours that just won’t quit.
In an interview with CHAR about the process involved, they said this recipe came to them while they had been trying to “reinvent the wheel”. Some leftover black pudding presented itself to them. So instead of “whipping those leftovers into Nigella’s black pudding meatballs with brown butter colcannon”, they went down the ragù route. Remixing the traditional beef and wine recepie was natural. Their evolution progressed when they added the stout into the mix because they were out of red wine. The shock wasn’t just that everyone should have red wine in the kitchen and that the stout worked well.
There were, of course, refinements to be made, but the essence of this special is serendipity.
It’s that openness to try. Try new flavours, combos, and ingredients that make this a perfect representation of the gourmand couple to stan and an ideal representation of what Sprezzatura does.
The lads said, “the ethos of the restaurant and our ethos perfectly aligns, so it was super seamless.”
While you would think that the people who brought the fresh pasta genre restaurant to Dublin would have hard and fast rules for these specials, the Gastro Gays say they were given free rein.
They said the team “were more than happy to let (them) loose with where the dish went but gave us a good steer in terms of a huge variety of styles of pasta”. With pasta styles feeling almost infinite, this kind of guidance is fundamental.
As with all Sprezzatura dishs and most Gasto Gays recepies the focus on using Irish suppliers/growers as much as possible is tantamount. In this remix of a classic ragú you get to celebrate Irish ingredients and flavours but honour the Italian heritage of ragú. If it had an aura it would be glowingly authentic.
On a scale of one to I-am-Italian, these lads land on the Mediterranean end of the scale. Though they’d consider themselves in their Italian “infancy”, It is safe to say they love their pasta. In fact, the twosome has been to Italy three times in the first six months of this year.” It was their time in Bologna where the ragù “left a major impression” on them, so that’s probably the most significant influence on this Sprezzatura Special.
It’s no surprise that this dish features Black Pudding to devout fans of the Gastro Gays. In their book Hot Fat, they wrote about having “this innate urge to add black pudding to almost everything.”
It’s demonstrably one of their favourite ingredients. In this special, it adds a real “unctuous note to an already unctuous style of Italian dish”.
When talking to CHAR about the special initiative, they said, “It’s a real pleasure to be part of such a great lineup of names working alongside Sprezzatura for such an important charity”.
If this is the calibre of specials we can expect to roll out weekly, you can be sure we’ll be in every Thursday eagerly awaiting the reveal of the next one. This is the kind of collab I think Dublin is rife for the making. We can’t wait to see what the cross-pollination of Irish culinary creatives brings us next.
The Pappardelle, Beef, Black Pudding & Stout Ragù by Gastro Gays is available in both Sprezzatura locations till Thursday, September 8. So get in, and don’t miss out.
Elsewhere on CHAR: The Enduring Appeal of a Burger and Chips