Restaurante Taverna

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Corner Avenidas Mao Tse Tung and Armando Tivane, Av.julius nyerere n.967, Maputo, Mozambique




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    Oct 2014 · dflsanchez

    When 3000 wine bottles line the walls of a restaurant, you're already a little tipsy before you sit down. One...

    When 3000 wine bottles line the walls of a restaurant, you’re already a little tipsy before you sit down.

    One of my most memorable meals in Maputo was at Taverna Restaurant — an experience that included one sensational treat after another.

    But the decor didn’t hold my attention long. It couldn’t because it was competing with a massive platter of at least 17 delectable looking starters — meats, cheeses and pâtés that took up half my table.

    My first response was, “Is that for me? All of it?”

    Well yes — if I wanted to pay 2500 metrical ($80), I could have eaten the whole thing. But you can order just one or two dishes individually and pay per dish for what you eat. I ordered sardine pâté flavored with tomato sauce, chili and something slightly sweet to balance out the saltiness.

    The pâté was very fishy, as Americans love to say, and so it should be. It’s fish. I spread it on the Portuguese cornbread, water roll, onion roll and toasts that arrived on my table, made fresh at Taverna Doce, the bakery next door.

    Nuno Pestana and his wife, Chef Rute, own and operate Taverna Restaurant, Taverna Doce bakery, and they were about to open a third restaurant –Taverna Italian — when I dined there.

    It’s one thing to master the art of presenting food beautifully, and another to make food that tastes as good as it looks. Nuno and Rute do both.

    My main course — five large prawns — came with lemon butter, spicy mayo and fries that were almost too hot to touch.

    Visually, there is a whole lot going on at this restaurant. A platter of salgange carried past my table on its way to emptier bellies looked so enticing I had to know what was on it: croquettes, coxhina, samosas, empanadas and prawn cakes.

    The dessert platter was off-the-charts tempting, with panna cotta, pastel de nate, mousse, petit gateau, doce da casa (sweet of the house), cheese cake with caramel, and cakes. I chose biscuit cake — it was sweet and creamy, layered, dense and comforting.

    After my meal, Nuno explained why fine dining is generally so expensive in Maputo. “All the products are imported from Portugal,” he said. For refrigerated food imported into Mozambique, taxes are 25 percent. That’s just the beginning. Then there’s transportation costs. “It’s a struggle every day,” he said.

    Taverna’s 90,000 bottles of wine — most are stored in the cellar — are imported from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the U.S.

    Nuno favorite white wine? The moscato from California, and his favorite red, the Douro from Portugal and the haute cabriere from South Africa.

    Taverna opened eight years ago in a smaller location with 80 seats, and has grown to 250 seats.

    “We invested $3.5 million in the Doce (Taverna’s new bakery next door), the restaurant, kitchen and bakery equipment,” Nuno said as he gave me a tour of the restaurant’s spotless kitchen. And like the food, all the equipment came from Portugal. For the Italian restaurant, he imported kitchen equipment from Italy.

    In November, the magazine Exame reported that Taverna was the largest private restaurant investment in Mozambique, Nuno said.

    Taverna provides jobs for 107 employees.

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