Going for a three hour drive (one way) to taste the very best Italian food in the Benelux? Of course, we’re prepared to make that effort as chef Ilario Mosconi is one of the most renowned representatives of the true Italian cuisine. The chef feels strongly about authenticity, flavour and top quality products, and that’s something you can taste in every bite.
Stylish, elegant and charming fine dining next to the river
The next stop in this year’s S.Pellegrino Hungry Chef-tour takes us to restaurant Mosconi in Luxembourg. Located in the traffic-calmed streets of the old, charming town in a monumental house overlooking the river Alzette, this place is the perfect setting for an elegant fine experience. Everything starts with a personal welcome and an aperitif in the stylish salon. On the ground floor, there’s a cosy library that is perfectly suited for private dining for groups up to 10 people. The dining room is located on the first floor and the magic in the kitchen happens on the floor above. Everything at Mosconi is very sophisticated, like the perfectly stiffened white table linen, the classic silver cutlery and the warm, cream and dark coloured fabrics that are used in the interior design. Nevertheless, you immediately feel at home and totally relaxed thanks to the attentive service and homey atmosphere.
The love for the authentic Italian cuisine
Having two Michelin stars and being part of a series of famous gastronomic organisations like ‘Les Grandes Tables du Monde’ and ‘Relais & Châteaux’, there’s no doubt about the top quality that restaurant Mosconi offers. However, the chef will never forget his background and the true spirit of the Italian cuisine which revolves around the beauty of simplicity. Chef Ilario Mosconi runs the restaurant together with his wife and hostess Simonetta Mosconi. Born and raised in Lombardy, the chef has a true love and passion for Italy. He moved to Luxembourg with his parents when he was 13 and started his career in the restaurant business as a waiter. But Ilario Mosconi felt his calling was rather cooking than serving the guests in the dining room. Chasing his dream, he decided to go back to Italy to work with Gualtiero Marchesi at his restaurant on Via Bonvesin de la Riva in Milan, in order to develop further his cooking skills. At his own restaurant, he continued to develop his talent and vision, which led to the acknowledgement of Michelin, rewarding him with his first Michelin star in 2000 and a second star in 2005. After a short period of having one star between 2014 and 2017, the chef and his team managed to get the second star back in 2017.
Curious to learn more about Ilario Mosconi, we take some time for an informal chat with this passionate chef. At the same time, the body language of this leading Italian chef boasts tranquillity and passion, fierceness yet relaxation which is exactly like the dining experience at Mosconi.
Hungry for More: How did you get started here with restaurant Mosconi? Which concept do you want the present to your guests?
Chef Ilario Mosconi: Our story in the restaurant business started off really simple. We wanted to invite people to discover the Italian cuisine. At the same time, we wanted it to be fun and not like what you get everywhere else. But we were motivated and ambitious, so we were getting better year after year, day after day even. We started to use better products, always aiming for the best quality. After 10 years, we were awarded a Michelin star and of course things began to get more serious from then on. After a while we felt that it was time for the next step. Our previous restaurant was for rent and we were dreaming to start something new, something of our own really. When we saw this house near the river, it was love at first side. We decided to fully renovate the building, with great respect for its monumental character. We wanted the restaurant to feel like a home. It’s our house and we want our guests to feel relaxed and comfortable. Without stress and pressure, one can enjoy a fine dining experience so much more.
Through the years we got the recognition of Michelin and many other culinary listings. And today we want to present a pure, refined, yet traditional Italian cuisine to our guests. My wife also does a great job in the dining room. In the kitchen we prepare the best dishes, but it’s just as important that they are served in the right way in the dining room, so our guests have the perfect experience.
Hungry for More: What makes the Italian cuisine so unique?
Chef Ilario Mosconi: The Italian cuisine is unique thanks to its beautiful products and simplicity. It’s very important to us to work with the best possible suppliers in order to get premium quality ingredients. Many of the products are imported from Italy so we can stay true to the original ‘product focused cooking’ that Italian food is all about. Whether it is chicken, tomatoes, olives or meat, we always want to build up a dish around the best basic flavours. And those products need to be the heroes of the plate, so there’s no need to add five, seven or maybe ten other flavours, because they make the dish too complex. Every extra ingredient needs to have an added value that brings the best out of the hero product.
To get the perfect flavours, it’s quintessential to have a huge respect for the seasons. When you look at our menu at the moment, you’ll see truffles, figs, mushrooms and other ingredients that are at their best in autumn. So, when you come to Mosconi during the summer, the dishes on the menu will look completely different.
Hungry for More: Do you have a favourite product that you adore working with?
Chef Ilario Mosconi: If you look at our menu, it won’t come as a surprise… I really love truffles. It’s such a beautiful product and we have a great supplier who makes sure that we get the best truffles from Alba in Italy. What many people don’t know is that you can create so many different dishes with truffles, so that’s what we want to show by offering a dedicated truffle menu.
But truffles are of course typical for the winter, so in the summer there are other products that I like to use, like strawberries for example. Long story short, I just love all top quality seasonal products.
Hungry for More: Where do you find the inspiration to come up with new creations every time?
Chef Ilario Mosconi: I get inspired by going out: visiting other restaurants, travelling to Italy, meeting with our suppliers… It’s not that I’m copying what they are doing, but it gives me new insights to develop my own ideas into innovative culinary creations.
Hungry for More: What is the impact of the culinary listings on your business and on you as a chef?
Chef Ilario Mosconi: I must say that it’s important. It’s nice to have that kind of recognition and it boosts my motivation as well as the motivation of the whole team. The famous culinary guides also give us the opportunity to attract guests from all over the world. It’s a great way to get promotion on an international scale. And also, for the region of Luxembourg it’s interesting, as we have many good restaurants here. Through culinary platforms or guides, they are officially acknowledged and promoted.
Hungry for More: What are your ambitions and dreams for the future?
Chef Ilario Mosconi: Our dream is to keep on doing what we are doing here right now. We’re proud of what we have achieved so far and of what we can offer our guests at Mosconi restaurant. We have a great team and I’m really looking forward to keep on working with them in the next years. So as long as we are healthy, we’ll keep doing the best we can at Mosconi, striving to get better and better each and every day.
An impressive menu of creative classics
The menu at restaurant Mosconi is quite impressive, offering a selection of à la carte dishes and a variety of set menu’s, like a truffle menu, a pasta menu or a tasting menu. We’re happy to follow the chef’s suggestions and sample some classics and dishes of the tasting menu.
First there’s a selection of appetizers:
Iced balls with Apérol Spritz.
A wooden board with:
A chickpea tartelette with pumpkin cream and mustard.
Beignets with mortadella and pistachio.
A small beetroot sandwich, paté of chicken liver and caramelised capers.
A little surprise box filled with a Russian salad, almond emulsion and vegetables of the season.
A black cuttlefish ball filled with cuttlefish and smoked ricotta cream.
Sesame chips with butter and anchovy.
The first course consists of king crab with Ossetra caviar, candied bergamot and citrus vinaigrette.
Next there’s pasta on the menu:
Conchiglioni stuffed with parmigiana di melanzane (made of eggplant, parmigiana and tomato) and European lobster.
Tartare of Fassone (veal from Piedmont) with celery cream and white truffle from Alba.
The main course is pigeon with burned Tropea red onions, salsa verde and seeds.
For dessert, there’s a creation of fig, vanilla panna cotta, red wine sauce and frozen figs. On the side we also get a scoop of nougat ice cream.
To end the meal there’s a range of mignardises:
A chocolate canellé filled with tiramisu.
A sachercake with apricot juice.
A Sicilian cannoli with ricotta and pistachio.
A beignet with nuts cream and nuts from Piemonte.
And some coffee snacks to sample with a classic Espresso.
A bowl of small beignet balls with powder sugar, nut cream and crispy sugar.
A selection of chocolates: white chocolate with vanilla olive oil, milk chocolate with tomato and basil, and dark chocolate with caramel cream.
If you want to enjoy a fine dining experience in a warm, elegant and classic setting, restaurant Mosconi in Luxembourg is a perfect address to do so. Chef Ilario Mosconi stays true to his origin by serving an Italian cuisine, where top quality products are highly valued.
Interview & text: Sarah De Hondt
Photography: Adriaan Van Looy