AN ITALIAN LOVE AFFAIR – LA DUCHESSA
by Chené Koscielny
Everybody needs at least one favourite Italian restaurant in their lives – maybe even one for every occasion. Our latest Italian crush is La Duchessa – the restaurant, café, bakery, épicerie and concept store which opened in Geneva a few months ago – making it the third in Switzerland, after GStaad and Etoy.
On a corner overlooking Geneva’s magical Place Neuve and directly opposite the Parc Bastions, the restaurant is perfectly located to draw the attention of bankers, students, theatre goers and curious passers-by. The bakery, café and épicerie – occupying about half of the …square metre premises on the Place Neuve side – is ideal for grabbing a quick coffee and breakfast, an Espresso and slice of award-winning patisserie or a light lunch. It’s also great for picking up a take-away salad or snack from the deli for an impromptu picnic in Parc Bastions.
First impressions are important and at La Duchessa you enter the restaurant by climbing the stairs to a black marbled reception area where you are met by a manager before being shown to your table.
The interior is modern and stylish with high ceilings, glass chandeliers, black and white marble floors with modern industrial style chairs and white tables and natural light streaming in through the huge windows.
A glass counter displaying charcuterie, cheese and other Italian treats dominates one side of the room. It’s not hard to imagine yourself in an upmarket Italian ristorante in Milan or Rome.
The vibe is trendy and buzzing with animated conversation – as you’d expect of any self-respecting Italian restaurant. The dress code is trendy and chic. You’ll feel a bit out of place in tacky jeans. The waiters are are attentive and friendly – and no, they didn’t know that we were there to review the restaurant.
We love our food and wine – and the quality, freshness, taste, presentation – as well as the very generous portions at La Duchessa – made us fall head over heels with this restaurant.
Take your time to savour every dish and make it a sensual, mindful culinary experience with a few glasses of quality Italian wines – ideal for sharing with good friends.
We started our love affair with a generous plate of truffle mortadella and Parma ham, followed by Burrata gigante: a melt-in-the mouth mountain of Pugliese burrata (330gr) accompanied with a rocket salad, cherry tomatoes and home-made focaccia. This dish, which is recommended for sharing, costs CHF39.
Also do yourself a favour and try the homemade pesto – which is simply divine.
I’ve never tried Vitello tonnato before and had my doubts about the combination, but the thin veal fillets with tuna-based sauce is actually very tasty. Also good for sharing, this dish costs CHF24.
We also shared the Carpaccio Amalfitano (160g) – a sea bass carpaccio, flavoured with pomegranate, preserved lemon and Espelette pepper which set off mini-explosions of flavour in your mouth.
THE MAIN ACT
The main course is one of the most popular dishes on the menu: La Pasta Duchessa – a black truffle pasta blazed in front of you with truffle cream and topped with truffle shavings. Rich and creamy with an exquisite taste, this pasta is absolutely addictive and I have since been back twice for more. As truffles are seasonal, this dish will sadly not be available in summer, but I already look forward to its return to the menu next winter.
The next best thing – which is still available during summer – is Pasta Prosciuto – pasta with truffle ham and cream. CHF28.
For people who claim to be not that much into dessert, we don’t do too badly with the Mascarpone e Lampone de Serbia Hazelnut biscuit, Serbian Raspberries, Mascarpone and Lemon cream – as rich and sweet and delectable as it sounds.
We also share the delicious Il chocolatto famoso brownie biscuit, praline cream on a chocolate Speculoos (spiced biscuits) base. TO DIE FOR…
And as if that’s not enough, we are persuaded to try the home-made vanilla ice-cream, served with a selection of toppings – including chocolate shavings, caramel popcorn and meringue. All of the desserts are excellent and cost around CHF14.
Our meal was sponsored by La Duchessa – and had we been paying we obviously wouldn’t have had nearly as much food, but we thought it was in your interest, dear reader, to try as many different dishes as we could.
We did have to fast for three days after, but it was worth every exquisite moment – creating memories of a culinary feast which will stay with us forever.
We have been back to this restaurant twice since our invitation – and have taken family and friends. It is our new favourite Italian in town – Need we say more?
It’s worth noting that they also do lovely pizzas.
+41 22 300 01 08
Lundi à Vendredi 7h30 – 19h
Samedi et Dimanche 8h – 19h
Monday to Thursday 12h – 14h
19h – 21h30
Friday and Saturday 12h – 14h30
19h – 22h
Sunday 12h – 14h30
19h – 21h30
Daily from 10h – 20h