Bacchus is the real government canteen, its dining spaces littered with huddles of civil servants, breezy MPs and the occasional ebullient minister
Photo: Sébastien Goossens
How can something as normal as choosing where to go for pizza with friends be fraught with so many pitfalls? In Luxembourg, everyone has their favourite pizzeria, more often than not a joint right in their neighbourhood that is so authentic it is packed with Italians.
In the city centre, the choice seems to be between two traditional addresses. Onesto on rue du Nord opened as Giorgio’s in the 1980s and is rightly popular with the international community and the sort of hip Italians who seem to have made the nearby Konrad café their home base.
Down near the city history museum, nestled in the government quarter, Bacchus is another familiar venue that also opened in the 1980s--in 1984, to be precise. It is just behind the Michelin-starred Clairefontaine, which for a while was known as the government canteen because cabinet used to retire there after its weekly meeting.
But Bacchus is the real government canteen, its dining spaces littered with huddles of civil servants, breezy MPs and the occasional ebullient minister.
Service here is smart and efficient, and usually helmed by owner and maître d’ Franco. Lunch for three was executed in under an hour without feeling rushed. The back room, a tented terrace that is heated in the winter, is probably the best place to be seated. No chance here of the waiters ignoring you just because you are out of sight of the frenetic pass and constantly-fed pizza ovens.
Rather than offer a free digestif, as so many Italian restaurants do these days, a free coupe of bubbly is brought to the table for each adult, along with a slice of margherita pizza. Packets of grissini are available, but the bread in the basket is a disappointing and soft baguette rather than the more familiar dense crisp crust Italian bread.
The waiter addresses us in Luxembourgish (which wins brownie points) and the food is very good, if not spectacular.
It is also one of the best value dining venues in the city centre, with many of the pizzas under €13. The Contadina has a crisp, thin base and maybe not enough salami piquant, but the rucola and jambon is topped with a generous serving of the salad leaves and mouthwatering prosciutto. A lasagne comes piping hot and beautifully browned on top.
It’s all very sincere but modest, just right for family lunch or an unfussy dinner with a group of friends at which conversation, or eavesdropping on state secrets, is more important than the food.