Dario’s in Eversley Road, Sketty is just a 3 minute walk from Bay HQ. We had enjoyed a takeaway from there when it first opened some years ago, but we hadn’t actually dined in. Booking a table was tricky; there are only about 20 covers, so they get reserved very quickly – which is always a good sign.
I remember when I was growing up in Sketty, this building was home to an Antique and Collectables shop. I was always fascinated by the odd assortment of goods on offer, and it appeared to be packed to the gunwales with dusty bits of furniture and fur coats.
All that has changed now of course; the restaurant décor is light and bright with a monochrome mural of the Bay of Naples on one wall.
During the week Tuesday to Thursday, you can take advantage of the two-course menu for £16.50 or push the boat out with the a la carte. We did a bit of both which worked well. We nibbled on some fab homemade bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar while we made our minds up.
Garlic bread with sausage, mozzarella, spinach and chilli sounded interesting and proved to be a huge hit – even though the portion size was enormous. This was garlic bread and a half. The home-made pizza style base provided the perfect vehicle for a rich topping of garlicky buttery slices of Italian sausage, melted mozzarella and spinach with just a hint of chilli. Fortunately, our other starter wasn’t quite so gargantuan – gamberoni picante – king prawns cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with garlic and chilli. The prawns were perfect – just cooked to retain their succulence, and the sauce had just enough gentle heat without being fiery.
The fish of the day was cod with prawns in garlic – there was going to be no danger of vampires tonight. The cod was obviously very popular as there was only one portion left so we tossed a coin and I lost, but I was happy with my medallions of fillet steak with a port and Dolcelatte sauce.
The cod was gloriously white in contrast to the pink prawns and garlicky butter and cooked perfectly. What better to accompany a piece of cod but a portion of chips – golden and with just the right amount of crunch. I know chefs always say that fillet steak has the least flavour and that they favour rib-eye, but for me it has to be fillet every time. It’s the tenderest, and if it comes with a flavourful sauce then to my mind it’s a job well done – well rare in my case. The port and Dolcelatte sauce was definitely a winner; rich and savoury with a creamy consistency – just right for dipping sautéed potatoes into.
We didn’t make it as far as the dessert menu, but we’ll certainly be coming back to try some of the handmade pizzas – it’s not as if we’ve got far to travel.
Our meal came to just over £40 excluding drinks. Making a reservation in advance is essential as this little restaurant does get very booked up.
Dario’s Ristorante, 87 – 89 Eversley Road, Sketty, Swansea, SA2 9DE Tel: 01792 447370
Can the Can
The joy of foreign travel for me is the food, and more precisely shopping for food to bring home. Even when travelling with hand baggage only, I still manage to find room for tins of fish and packets of local salt.
One of the things that Portugal is renowned for is its tinned fish. They have shops dedicated to tins of tuna, sardines, mackerel and squid, where the packaging is quite exquisite. Tinned food is often considered to be inferior, whereas in actual fact it can be a superior product as it is preserved when it is at its peak condition, and it’s the ultimate convenience food. The process of canning meat and fish goes back to the Napoleonic wars where they needed to find a way to preserve foods. Everything that you find in a tin can has already been cooked, so all you need is a can opener and you’re good to go.
British company Rockfish based in Brixham, Devon has recently launched a range of canned fish. The packaging is very reminiscent of the tins I have bought in Portugal.
The cost of feeding a family is rising week on week with too many people having to turn to food banks to supplement their weekly food shopping. Tinned produce is the staple of food banks as they have a long shelf life and are easily transportable. A book that I have come across that uses canned food as the basis of its recipes is Canned by Theo Michaels who was a Master Chef semi-finalist in 2014. Here I found a recipe for crispy fried cockles, something that seems to be on many local restaurant menus – which uses those little jars of cockles in brine, along with lots of other quick and easy ideas using tinned beans and pulses.