Trattoria da Gino, Luxembourg City

The story is the same: you see “work in progress” on a window in the city previously occupied by a restaurant you walk by and you start to wonder which kind of food you are going to eat there next. And then, when the sign unveils, you discover that it is, once again, an Italian restaurant.

The question is: do we need another Italian restaurant in town? This was the same I might have initially crossed my mind when I discovered that, at the place of a lunch eatery next the station, an Italian trattoria was going to open, Trattoria da Gino.

My curiosity has never been stopped by a cliché, therefore I decided anyway to try the restaurant – well, I said, even if it was just another boring Italian night, would still be Italian.

I could have not been more wrong.

The place itself, to start with, it is quite different from most of the Italian places I have been in the city: bright is the first adjective I would use to describe it, cozy, relaxed, with a clean and open kitchen on view at the end of the main room – open kitchen in an Italian restaurant in Luxembourg for me is a first time.

First time I visited Trattoria da Gino was a very calm Saturday night at the end of August, during the Fair, and the restaurant was full but not packed. We have been welcome by the owner, Gino – you have probably seen him already around as he has an astonishing experience in the food industry in Luxembourg.

While drinking an aperitif, I discovered the lovely details of the place. The restaurant embraced perfectly the concept of Italian “trattoria” : there is not a menu, but the dishes proposed a la carte change on a daily basis for dinner, are limited to a few and are written on a huge chalkboard on the wall.

We decided to share a starter (“vitello tonnato”, a North Italian cold dish composed by tiny slices of veal and a tuna fish sauce). For main, I went for “Fusilli Calabresi con Sugo di Porcelletto” – homemade pasta from the South of Italy with a piglet sauce, while my friend had Roasted Duck with Plums sauce.

During the meal, we drank one of my favorite wine ever – Marina Cvetic Montepulciano. The list of wine – as the food card – is limited but has indeed some extremely interested items.

Our dinner and our entire evening were amazingly pleasant: I was surprised above all by the fact that, even if the place is low key and casual (exactly a “trattoria”), ingredients are gourmet, dishes are polished, wine list has a lovely selection and the dish presentation is definitely very refined – more like a high end restaurant than a casual eatery.

I did not mention the taste of the food, which was amazing.

I did not miss the chance to come back to visit Gino very soon afterwards – fact is, they are publishing the daily menu on their FB page and when I am leaving the office and I see something I like, as it is very close to where I live, I just ask myself: do you want to cook or do you want to have …? Well, you know already the reply.

On my second visit, I had another succulent dish – “fregola” (an Italian small type of pasta typical from Sardinia) with sea food followed by a delicious Baba’ with rhum – still dreaming about that. Another time, I had a sandwich with octopus. Then I lost the count…

Well – actually I have been there on a wine tasting night – but I am happy I did not have many pictures about that, but only blurred memories and a memorable headache to follow 🙂
Indeed, Gino is also organizing special nights that are just a good excuse to try the place – on a regular basis, there are wine tasting events and after-works. Watch out the Facebook page for more update.

To conclude, the striking contrast between the concept of the restaurant – a low key Italian trattoria – and the result they obtained – a fine-dining selection of dishes and ingredient, special wines and sophisticated presentation – is making Trattoria da Gino a unique place in its style on the Luxembourg scene – and therefore a must to visit.

This article has been adapted from the one we originally published as contributors on the new Editus website.

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Agave Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, Hollerich, Luxembourg

This was for me the most waited opening of 2018 – you know why? As I live just nearby and when I saw “tequila bar opening soon” my heart started giggling – LOL.

So when finally Agave opened its door last month, it jumped at the top of my place to try – and my dear friend Jenni came to support me – never seen she left me drinking alone one week-end.

We booked for Halloween night – and I recognize now, it might not have been a great idea as first try, therefore my review should be read in consideration of the above.

We got there around 8ish and the place – that is kind of small – was already packed. I was immediately surprised to note how they did a great job to chance completely its appearance compared to its predecessor (“I Quattro Mori“, that now moved to Esch/Alzette). The restaurant now is colorful, bold, joyful. Remind me of this tequila bar just off the harbor in Isla Mujeres that was serving giant Margaritas – I definitely need some Caribbean vacations I did not take this year!

Anyway – as said, we got there and it was very full. We had our table and we were given menu card. Now, as usual, we started with the idea of limiting our choices as we wanted to “go out” after. We ordered, in the meanwhile, two frozen margaritas, classic, and went after for two starters and one main to share. As starter we had nachos with guacamole and shrimps ceviche, followed by shrimps tacos.

Our wait was the longest I remember in a while and when we were almost done with our second drink and I started feeling tipsy, we checked for our food. Finally, after 5 minutes, it arrived, all together.

As we were pretty in a hurry to get downtown later, we skipped the coffee and the tequila – we actually had them at my place while waiting for our cab 🙂

Our bill: 4 margaritas, 1 bottle of water, 1 guacamole and nachos, 1 shrimps ceviche, 1 shrimps tacos (4 pieces), read 81 Eur in total.

Pictures of the dinner followed by my first impressions about Agave.

What I liked about Agave:

  • The restaurant is lovely: the atmosphere feels authentic, I love the decorations and it is everything but commercial. I think they did a great job trying to give the place a different accent compared to those already existing in the city, something never seen, and I definitely appreciate it – you don’t feel to be in Luxembourg and it is a difficult exercise considering the surrounding area.
  • The food was truly good: loved the guacamole and the shrimps tacos, really. Ceviche was to me a bit a hit and a miss – it was good but could not enjoyed it fully as it was submersed in raw onions – and if you plan a night out, it might not be the greatest thing to eat – not that I had to kiss anyone, but still.
  • The menu also has some very interesting choices: as Jenni does not eat meat, we were a bit limited, but I want definitely to come back to try other dishes that I saw running around toward other tables and looked very good. Portions are also more than fair.
  • Last, but not least, our margarita was amazing, the list of cocktails is fascinating and I would definitely go for a cocktail again.

What I liked a bit less about Agave:

  • Now the painful part. We waited to much, really too much. More than 1 hour and 15 minutes to get nachos and guacamole to me it is definitely not acceptable and I was very annoyed. To make it up, they took everything together, that was also something I didn’t appreciate – as table was small and after 10 minutes food was over.
    I don’t feel the urge to be bad and I think what happened might be considered acceptable considering Agave has been open for less than 1 month, so it is still on trial. And, not to forget, it was Halloween night, so it was fully booked. We talked with a friend who dined there just the day before and said she had a very relaxed dinner. So, keep up and I am sure things will improve.
  • Second thing we noted is that, as it was full but relatively small, it tended to become very noisy – perfect for friends’ dinner, a bit less in that specific case for a romantic rendez-vous.

So – in conclusion: Agave is a new Mexican restaurant at the very end of rue de Hollerich. Decorations are colorful, drinks amazing and food tasty. The place has been opened for less than one month, therefore there might be still room for improvements (for us, the waiting time ). It is a vibrant place with a different kind of cozy atmosphere and I would definitely visit it again on a calmer night to taste other items off their interesting menu list. Strongly recommended for a night out with friends.