It was one of the smallest and most successful eateries in Galway city, but Il Vicolo had to close down and start up again in a new place writes Barbara Collins.
The finest Italian wines and authentic Venetian cooking brought them in in their droves to Il Vicolo, voted Best Casual Dining in Galway for two years in a row by the Restaurant Association of Ireland. No sooner had this year’s award been announced than the owner Gerry McMahon had an announcement of his own to make. He was closing.
“We had just 25 seats and the kitchen was across the street. It just wasn’t sustainable,” says Gerry. “When I look back at the set-up we had there, it was obvious from the beginning we weren’t going to make money.”
He told me how he washed glasses by hand for a year because the electrical system wouldn’t have been able to cope with a machine. He also worked with just one other member of staff on the floor.
He closed the business in April and for two weeks, he didn’t know if he would be opening again, but then a space became available the increasingly-foodie Dominick Street area. The new Il Vicolo at Bridge Mills is much more spacious than its previous incarnation.
“There’s a drinks terrace and a mill which is enclosed behind glass. There was no question that we wanted the site. It was just a question of negotiating the right terms,” says Gerry.
[quote_box_center]When I look back at the set-up we had there, it was obvious from the beginning we weren’t going to make money[/quote_box_center]
It took seven weeks to get everything ready before opening up again, which he decided to do before the madness of festival time in Galway.
“It’s just a totally different concept now. It’s so nice to have the space to be able to do everything we want on the menu,” says Gerry.
14 of the 18 staff is Italian. The menu is as authentically Italian as you can get, with the middle room turning into a proper Venetian wine bar at weekends. Customers can have a glass of wine with some cicchetti (Venetian tapas), which are priced between five and eleven euro.
There are two dining rooms with a total capacity of 63 seats. The restaurant is open for lunch six days a week and dinner all week long. The average main course is around 19 euro with desserts coming in at the seven euro mark.
“We had a great vibe in the other place, and that vibe is also here in the new venue. There is nowhere else like it in Galway. It’s a modern Italian wine bar and restaurant and that’s what I wanted from day one.”
Il Vicolo The Bridgemills, O’Brien’s Bridge, Galway is open
12pm – 3pm Monday – Saturday for lunch, and 5pm – 10.30pm Monday – Sunday for dinner.