As of December 2017, Valletta can count a new but already iconic address on its list of culinary rendezvous.
Chef de Cuisine and co-owner Jonathan Brincat, known among friends and colleagues as Noni, has lent his skills and flair in the kitchen to many renowned gastronomic and luxury establishments in Malta and overseas before starting on this new journey at NONI.
“Our food will reflect us as individuals; skilled but without pretensions, warm, and welcoming.”
This is how Jonathan sums up the philosophy that drives the people behind NONI, who are all keen to share their professionalism, love for hospitality, and knowledge of the product with diners, only without the stuffy atmosphere that often pervades top-class establishments.
We caught up with Jonathan to ask him about NONI’s imminent launch, and how he and the rest of the team are preparing for the big day.
Launching NONI must be a dream come true. How would you describe the last few days and weeks before the inauguration?
“It’s been exciting and challenging, of course, seeing a dream of ours coming true, says Jonathan. “We’re grounded though, so that feeling of accomplishment still eludes us, until the doors officially open and our food is served to diners. I’ll be a lot happier the minute that happens.”
Your cooking approach emphasises using local and sustainable ingredients. Which experiences in your formative years made you embrace this philosophy?
“I believe that if you respect your ingredients, your guests and your philosophy, there is no other option than using local and sustainable ingredients. As to formative experience, the team’s love for Malta, and love for the real taste of real, genuine ingredients, is probably our greatest motivator to do things this way.”
Besides the authentic Mediterranean food, patrons at NONI can look forward to an extensive wine list curated by yourself. Do you have any favourite pairings?
“I have a whole menu of pairings! Seriously though, my choice picks would be;
- The [simple_tooltip content=’‘]cured mackerel, smoked mackerel pâté[/simple_tooltip], pomegranate and cucumber dressing
Paired with the Rioja ‘Barrel Ferment’, Valenciso from Spain. The wine’s complex aromas combine a floral character with preserved lemon and gently smoky notes. Its palate is intense and broad, with nuts, stone fruit, minerality and balancing citrus acidity on the finish.
- I would pair our seared bavette of beef, confit tomatoes, garlic & parsley purée, beet broth with a lovely Bordeaux Rouge, Michel Lynch from France. It’s fantastically generous, balanced and round on the palate with firm ripe tannins. With its brilliant garnet colour, this Michel Lynch displays notes of blackcurrant and fresh bread with an overall impression of ripeness and power.
- For dessert, I find that our ‘[simple_tooltip content=’‘]’Te Fit Tazza’ black tea and condensed milk mousse[/simple_tooltip], lemon ricotta, lemon froth is perfectly paired to the Riesling ‘The Noble Wrinkled’, D’Arenberg from Australia, with its pretty, lifted nose and fruit characters. The palate is lively and floral with yellow citrus flowers and its acidity spans the whole palate, balancing off nicely with the natural sugar.
“Our food will reflect us as individuals; skilled but without pretensions, warm and welcoming.”
Chef Jonathan will be assisted by his sister, Ritienne, Restaurant Manager at NONI, who has 12 years experience in the high-end food and beverage sector..
She also shared her perspective on the launch and what patrons can expect in the first weeks of operation.
You have more than a dozen years’ experience in the catering and hospitality business. What’s different about working at NONI and how are you adjusting to it?
“It was great to be able to build our team with the persons we ourselves consider right for the position, as well as the pressure, yet fun, of compiling and selecting our own beverage list to complement the menu and Jonathan’s vision,” said Ritienne.
With Christmas festivities just around the corner, does NONI have anything different to propose to diners who want to celebrate this season?
“Well, our food is certainly very different,” chuckles Ritienne. “Diners have lots options in Valletta, I know, but what we offer is discreet, friendly service, without being overly intrusive, in an intimate atmosphere, just round the corner from the beating heart of the city and main shopping addresses. It’s a new-old venue, with loads of history and professionally elevated from its previous state, with fantastic food and great service. Did I mention we also have a NYE tasting menu and NYE Day lunch?”
NONI will be open six days a week between Monday to Saturday for dinner and Thursday, Friday, Saturday also for lunch. Seats are limited and reservations are recommended. Call 2122 1441 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and reservations.