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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La Biblioteca, Clausen, Luxembourg

Taking advantage of the visit of one of my best friend, on a relatively quiet Friday night – after a Thursday ended up at Saumur – we decided to try the new Mexican restaurant in the Rives de Clausen area, La Biblioteca. The restaurant opens its doors just the Tuesday before.
You can book your table online – thanks God, finally this is starting to be common as well in Luxembourg – and we got there ready and hungry at 8ish.

The place was still calm and we were allocated to a table indoor – unfortunately the terrace was already fully booked. The location is very cozy: forget Calavera and sombreros around, the place is all dark wood, books (La Biblioteca literally means The Library) and linear, minimal décor.

We started with a Corona beer and ordered a guacamole starter. The menu choice is limited: together with some entrée to share, you have a selection of main ingredients (chicken, beef, vegetables, etc.) to apply to the main course, in the shape of a burrito,  tacos or quesadilla. I went for a carne asada quesadilla, while M. went for a burrito.

We concluded with an espresso and a cognac and our final bill (starter to share, two beef mains, 3 beers, one bottle of water, one espresso and one cognac) read slight less than 90 Euro, 45 Eur per person.

As routine, pictures of our dinner are followed by my impressions on the restaurant.

What I liked about La Biblioteca:

  • I loved the mood of the place: finally an “exotic” restaurant with no cheesy decorations and music. The terrace is lovely, reminds me of some intimate places around Southbank in London. The service was friendly and all smiling, while kind of fast and a bit apprehensive, but the restaurant has been just opened for couple of days, so definitely understandable.
  • I loved the food: as it’s clear from my reviews, I definitely don’t appreciate much restaurants with an infinite menu choice. I prefer a shorter list, that maybe provides you with limited decisions, but definitely with fresher ingredients. Having been to Mexico, I was finding my quesadilla so similar to those I was eating in Cancun with my feet in the ocean (take me back please!) as much as I loved the guacamole with its nachos – forget processed food, this was truly delicious. I also loved the fact they did not provide you with French fries as side as basically everywhere around Luxembourg, but rice and a tasty, seasoned salad were in the dish.

What I liked a bit less about La Biblioteca:

  • For being a place that opens just in the same week, I feel things are almost all perfect. Definitely a bit of finishing here and there might be needed. The thing that might be less than impressive is how close tables are indoor. If you are booking on the week end for a romantic date, you might want to consider it. And a spicy sauce option with the main would have been highly appreciated on my side 🙂

 

In conclusion: I really liked La Biblioteca and I am looking forward to come back soon: it definitely has the ambience factor and the food is tasty and authentic. Remember to specify in your reservation if you want to dine on the terrace – I would do it next time – and definitely perfect if you are looking for a new, different informal place for a dinner with friends.