O’Neill’s: Irish Hospitality, Comfort Food & Perfect Pints
The last time I experienced Irish hospitality, I was in a small pub in Killarney, Ireland. On a bus tour navigating all of the must-see spots in the southern tip of the country, I was at the end of my week-long trip and tired of long hours on the bus. After unpacking at the hotel, my friends and I welcomed the chance to head out for dinner and drinks.
One step out the door of the hotel, we headed towards the sound of laughter and bagpipes. The tunes and glee intertwined creating an intoxicating draw and the atmosphere inside the pub was pure joy—friendly staff, giddy clientele, and a host of independent, local musicians singing away in a local brogue. We were instantly brought into the fold, becoming part of the liveliness of the location. Here, everyone who stepped into the door was family. It was true Irish hospitality.
When I walked into O’Neill’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in South Norwalk, a wave of déjà vu came over me—I was instantly transported back to Killarney. Although it is much larger in scale, O’Neill’s rustic interior has that small town Irish pub feel—the promise of cozying up to the bar to enjoy a nice pint and Irish comfort food.
But this Irish pub doesn’t just promise Irish hospitality… It delivers.
Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking: the Irish aren’t generally known for their cuisine. But
do yourself a favor and try O’Neill’s traditional dishes authenticated by family recipes. There’s a variety of savory pies—Shepherd, Chicken Pot, and Fisherman, but to this Irish lass, the true test of traditional fare is the Corned Beef and Cabbage, served year-round with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. (Spoiler alert: it’s a must!)
The menu also offers favorites like Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash, but if you’re in the mood for some serious comfort food, try the Old World Beef Stew. Tender bits of beef, onions, celery, and carrots swimming in a rich gravy circling a dollop of mashed potatoes. It is hearty, full of flavor, and delicious.
Looking for something a bit on the lighter side? Not a problem. O’Neill’s coveted corned beef can also be enjoyed in their Reuben Panini, where thick-cut slices of meat, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and Russian dressing are housed between two pieces of rye.
The Perfect Pint
On that same trip to Ireland, I was also lucky to visit Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse (aka ginormous brewery). At the top of the building, each pint of Guinness is meticulously poured to perfection, with the bartender carefully carving a shamrock in the foam. It’s clear they take their stout pretty seriously.
At O’Neill’s, you will get the same pouring panache, albeit the shamrock art. Leahy detailed not only how each pint glass is filled (foam and all), but also outlined how each bartender is trained so you continually receive perfection, pint after pint. It like beer art watching the Guinness clouds swirl as the tap allows more to flow into the glass.
Service with a Smile
Also part of Leahy’s training? Irish hospitality. There is nothing like walking into a pub, receiving a greeting with a smile, and encouragement to eat, drink, and be merry. And it’s clear how important it is to Leahy, who in his Irish accent, passionately describes how it’s a part of life—and family—as tears well in his eyes. It’s clear—acknowledging this welcoming feeling not only keeps diners coming back, but it is also one of the highest accolades an Irish pub can receive.
In short, you know where to find me on St. Patrick’s Day.
O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant
93 North Main St.
Norwalk, CT 06854
Phone: (203) 838-0222