Italian restaurant Mosconi has been one of the most prestigious addresses in Grund, and indeed the whole of Luxembourg since 2000. We visited this exquisite, internationally acclaimed restaurant to find out more.
The first thing that greets you when you walk through the door of this beautiful, characterful building on the banks of the Alzette is the hostess’s sunny energy. Simonetta Mosconi, who runs Italian fine dining restaurant ‘Mosconi’ with her husband Ilario, is warm, welcoming and bubbly, and happy to tell us their restaurant’s story.
The husband and wife team opened Mosconi on 17 November 2000, the successor to their first restaurant ‘Domus’ on rue du Brill in Esch-sur-Alzette, which opened in 1986. “We wanted to create something different to a ‘traditional’ Italian restaurant. Domus was a great success; our clientele came from all over Luxembourg,” recalls Simonetta. “At first, Ilario worked in the dining room and not in the kitchen. Our chef was Renato Favaro! But it had always been my husband’s dream to become a chef and, in 1989, he decided that he wanted to start creating dishes of his own. He had some knowledge of cooking, but above all an exceptional palate,” she says. And so Ilario went to train in the kitchens of Gualtiero Marchesi, a three-star Michelin chef in Milan. It was a lot of hard work. But hard work that paid off when, in 1997, he was awarded his first Michelin star.
“All we had left was our car!”
That same year, Ilario and Simonetta took a crazy gamble, buying a run-down house in the Grund district, right in the centre of Luxembourg City, and renovating it to transform it into their new restaurant. “We had to redesign and reconfigure absolutely everything. We also had the fact that it’s a historic monument in a UNESCO World Heritage Site to contend with! We put everything we had into the project! All we had left was our car!” she smiles, though somewhat overwhelmed as she recalls just how reckless they had been.
Many have since passed through its doors and seen and admired the fruits of their labour: an elegant restaurant that oozes a harmonious blend of sophistication and simplicity, both in the dining room and on the plate.
Behind the front door stands a piece of antique furniture adorned with designer vases. “I think we got it in 1990… It’s an old counter, or has come from a church, we don’t really know,” says the woman who attends so attentively to front of house. Given how well it has stood the test of time, including surviving the July 2021 floods unscathed, it could well be a sacred object. Which would fit well with the happy communion between chef, wife and teams that reigns in this culinary temple. A culinary temple that creates joyful, delicate notes to titillate the palate, like music to the ears: sensational spheres of Apérol Spritz sorbet, tantalizing touches of candied bergamot and the most incredible caper ice cream.
A shooting star…
These little moments of sheer gourmet delight are what make Mosconi so special. “In 2005, we made it into ‘Relais et Châteaux’ and into the ‘Les Grandes Tables du Monde’ guide as one of the very best restaurants in the world, and received our second Michelin star. We were the only two-star Michelin Italian restaurant outside of Italy!” say the couple. A great accolade, but also a great deal of pressure that constantly hangs over this Grund establishment. In 2013, the restaurant lost its second star, before regaining it at the end of 2016… and then losing it again in 2019. “We’re always trying to evolve, to reinvent ourselves, while remaining consistent in terms of quality,” says the chef.
And when it comes to this, the Mosconis don’t think twice about driving all the way to Italy. “We know all our suppliers, from Tuscany, Piedmont, Puglia… We had to fight hard to secure our butcher, because he’s so exceptional! We always seek out the very best. We taste, we discover, then we create our dishes.”
No question of retirement
In his kitchens on the second floor, Ilario Mosconi is constantly striving to improve the quality of his dishes, which he prepares in and on the Molteni stoves that he had fitted before the roof was put back on during the renovation work.
Today, the chef is celebrating his 66th birthday. When we ask him if he’s thinking of retiring, he waves the question away. Not yet. That will no doubt be another story, but one for another day…
13, Rue Münster — L-2160 Luxembourg Grund
Tel. + 352 / 54 69 94