For many years I’ve been shouting, like a voice crying in the wilderness, that you can’t get proper Italian food in Ireland. Bad recipes and wrong ingredients have been combined over many years to create a cuisine that is neither Irish nor Italian, but a bastardised mix of the two, that in my opinion does no justice to either tradition.

I’ve spoken to many restaurateurs about this and there’s a prevailing view that there’s a chicken and egg problem here. They tell me that if they make the dishes as they should be, their customers won’t accept them. The customers, I’m told, expect to find penne with chicken and cream on the menu. They want their espressos filled to the top, their carbonara with cream and love to sprinkle Parmesan on fish dishes, all of which would be deemed a cardinal sin in Italy.

In Enniscorthy Paolo Fresilli, the president of the Italian Federation of Chefs in Ireland, has been the pioneer of this movement. He’s passionate about bringing authentic Italian cuisine to Ireland and in his restaurant, Via Veneto, he produces exactly the kind of food that you’d get in Italy using all Italian produce that he imports himself.

This is a hard road to travel. Paolo won’t change his recipes to suit Irish palates, he resolutely sticks to the authentic recipes, even at the cost of losing customers. But by doing this, he has managed to educate a lot of palates and they’re grateful to him now.

I can remember the first meal that I had in Via Veneto many years ago. It was the first time that I’d eaten Italian food in Ireland and I got excited about it. Since then, other chefs have taken up his example and are making genuine and authentic Italian food. Paolo has been at the forefront of this movement towards authenticity, proving to others that you can make a restaurant work with authentic dishes. If you want to taste Italian food as it should be, take a trip to Enniscorthy.

Paolo Tullio