‘Culture Night 2012’ in Youghal,where arts and cultural organisations open their doors until late with a series of free events, talks, musical performances and tours for all the family to enjoy.
Luigi’s Italian Deli and Trattoria, Youghal Co. Cork
At the Clock Tower, Youghal, Co. Cork.
Luigi Camilleri’s Italian trattoria and deli is situated in the beautiful seaside town of Youghal in Co. Cork. Situated in the shadow of the famous clock tower, Luigi’s serve authentic Italian dishes daily, with the emphasis on great local ingredients, and the sure touch of a young man who worked and studied under the great Italian Michelin starred chef Giorgio Locatelli. This is undoubtedly one of the best Italian food experiences in Ireland, and we urge you to worship at the alter. After all, if it’s good enough for Madonna…..
Well, in fairness Madonna didn’t exactly rock up in Youghal for lunch, but after cooking in some of London’s coolest in-spots, Luigi did a stint as ‘chef to the stars’ cooking in the homes of Madonna, Ringo Star, Sean Connery, Richard Gere and many others. He moved to West Cork in 2007, originally as an executive chef, but he then opened a deli, before taking the plunge and opening the restaurant last year.
Luigi’s is in a lovely old building that just drips atmosphere. Inside it is small, but certainly not pokey, and the kitchen is completely open, so there is a constant floorshow of sorts going on that adds to the foodie feel. Mis-matched tables and chairs are dotted around, and there is a large communal table available either for a large group, or to share with fellow diners. The menu changes every day, and is very much decided by what Luigi can get from the local fisherman, or what the organic farmer delivers in his veg box.
I recently visited Luigi’s on a trip to Cork, and arrived on a beautiful summer’s day, with the bay the brightest blue, and the town basking in the sunshine. Finding Luigi’s is easy, drive towards the clock tower, and just before you go under it, look to the right, and there it is. The specials of the day are on a blackboard, and there is a ‘Ballycotton Tasting Menu’ which is designed to show off the local produce, as much as to show what Luigi can do with it. In the interests of research I chose to eat a selection of dishes from this menu.
First up was Carpaccio of anchovies, marinated in vinegar, water and sugar, as they do in Luigi’s home in Puglia. I am not generally a fan, but these were fresh and delicious, served simply in a bed of leaves. Next was a bowl of spaghetti with Frank Hederman’s smoked butter with Bottarga – Sometimes called the poor man’s caviar, bottarga is the roe pouch of tuna or grey mullet, or sometimes swordfish. It is massaged by hand to eliminate air pockets, then dried and cured in sea salt for a few weeks. The result is a dry hard slab, which is coated in beeswax for keeping. In Italy, it is best-known in Sicilian and Sardinian cuisine; its culinary properties can be compared to those of dry anchovies, though it is much more expensive. Bottarga is often served with lemon juice as an appetizer or used in pasta dishes. In this case the pasta was coated in the butter, with thinly sliced Bottarga on top, the delicious taste of the fish roe perfectly complementing and cutting the butter.
These triumphs were followed by impossibly good smoked salmon croquettes, and grilled stuffed langoustines, and marinated prawns – almost raw and almost Italian sushi. A very delicious risotto primavera – red from the beetroot did the job of filling me up, and much as I would have liked to try everything on the menu, I had to admit defeat.
I will be back in Luigi’s at the earliest opportunity. The food is sublime, and I am running out of superlatives to describe it. Fresh, imaginative, delicious, zesty, extraordinary – brilliant restaurant, brilliant bloke. Try it.
Michael Del Punta is the latest singing sensation to come out of Youghal. The talented 19 year old crooner wows the diners with his singing in the popular Capri Bay Italian restaurant in Youghal, where he works as a part time waiter. The diners have discovered that Michael is not only good at serving tables, he displays his fine talents singing his favourite songs by artists such as Sinatra, Crosby, Tony Bennett, etc., much to their delight and surprise.Report/Photo: Michael Hussey & Tony Irwin for YoughalOnline.com
The UCC student found he could not afford to bring his girlfriend to fancy restaurants so he decided to work as a part-time waiter in town. After meeting the proprietor of Capri Bay, Gerald Esposito, he immediately got the job and has been working there part-time for the past seven months. While working, Michael would often break out in song in the kitchen, when Gerald and his father Rocco asked him, with such a magnificent voice, to go out and sing to the customers. This has proved to be so popular that he has been affably called ‘the singing waiter’ by the customers and now Michael sings regularly to the packed restaurant. Now, customers come from far and wide to hear Michael serenade them at the tables as ‘the singing waiter’.
A recent Youtube videoclip of Michael singing in the restaurant, made by YoughalOnline.com, is rapidly climbing in the rankings of the entertainment section and is just one of many to be uploaded by YoughalOnline.com in the near future. Michael was also interviewed by Shane Supple on Youghal’s local radio station, C.R.Y.
His debut self-titled EP, recorded at Claycastle Studios in Youghal, has exceeded all expectations, so much so that he had to order a second pressing, such is the demand for the singing waiter. Michael says his goal one day is to sing at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, sell twenty five million albums and appear on the Late Late Show!
Michael and his family, who have been living in Youghal for the past seven years, originate from Verona, Italy. Since he was a young boy, when his older siblings were listening to the likes of Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, Madonna or Kylie, Michael’s first contact with music was through his mother’s record collection consisting of works by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. He has continued this love of that ‘big band’ genre ever since. He has trained his voice with the help of well-known music conductor, Mary Peadar-Daly where she taught him to study his breathing technique so much so that Michael and his mature voice have been likened to Michael Bublé, although his favourite artist of all time and greatest influence is undoubtedly Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.
After moving to Youghal from Italy and studying at the old Youghal CBS school (he was the last person to do the Italian Junior Certificate exam in that school), he completed his fifth and sixth year studies in Pobalscoil na Tríonóide and now currently studies Arts at UCC, Cork City.
Michael has proved to be so popular, he is asked to sing regularly by friends at parties and weddings and is growing in confidence all the time. Speaking exclusively to YoughalOnline.com, he said “I am amazed by the reaction of the Youtube video and would like to thank YoughalOnline.com and everyone involved for their support” and confidently added “the way I see it, you should be able to do whatever it takes to make it to the top.”
So on your next trip to Capri Bay Italian restaurant to hear the singing waiter, when ordering your “big-a pizza pie”, you’ll get “Amoré” than you bargained for!
For the latest updates on Michael Del Punta go to his fanpage on Facebook or click here to view his Youtube videos.