During our trip to Seminyak, no other night stands out to me the way our evening at Zibiru does. Laced with romance, tucked away from the main road traffic, in this picturesque, open air Italian restaurant, all of the elements of an unforgettable fine dining experience come together in harmony. Every detail is thoughtfully put together, from the regional Italian cuisine made with fresh ingredients, to the elegant ambiance. We had the opportunity to catch up with the owner and executive chef, Luigi Calcagno, to tell us a little about himself, the story of Zibiru and what’s next for the restaurateur from Luxembourg.
Growing up, Luigi always possessed a passion for cooking, learning to make fresh pasta from his grandmother and preparing his first ever dish alone at the age of 13. While he was attending University in Luxembourg for journalism, he felt himself pulled to see more of the world. His travels took him throughout Europe, where he ended up working in multiple different kitchens to make money on the road. At the time, he thought his path was to become a food critic, but after realizing some of the realities of the job, his vision broadened and he started thinking that maybe he would create a restaurant of his own.
Before moving to Bali 10 years ago, he spent a short period of time living in New York, which he says was one of the greatest experiences of his life. The city taught him a lot of life lessons, and opened his perspective to how people function differently around the world.
In 2012, Luigi’s vision for a gourmet, farm to table, authentic Italian fine dining restaurant came to life. We found out the establishment we were standing in was actually his first ever home in Bali, it’s where the story of Zibiru began. He slowly remodeled the building, taking down a wall and opening up rooms here and there, then building a huge kitchen that would eventually produce all of the food for 6 restaurants.
Looking through the menu, you will find unique dishes from different regions all over Italy. Luigi takes pride in creating these dishes simply, with organic vegetables, fresh-from-the-net fish, pasture raised pork and poultry and of course his signature home made pasta, bread and sauces. He explained to us that when you’re cooking with such fresh ingredients, very little needs to be added to make it an amazing dish. This is the beauty of authentic Italian cuisine.
Right next door, you will find Luigi’s next concept, Bottega Italiana. If you wanted to take a taste of Zibiru home with you, step right in! This gourmet marketplace is where you will find his home made pasta, sauce, cheese, bread and other artisan items like cured meats, olive oil and wine. It also offers a more laid back dining experience, with the same high quality dishes.
After catching up with Luigi and his beautiful mother, we sat down for a dreamy dinner in a dim, candle lit corner of the courtyard. We had more than enough dishes to choose through off of the menu that aligned with our pescatarian and vegetarian diets. The wine was the best we’d had since we left the United States. Patrick was speechless over the lampuga in crusta di pane, the pan seared, bread crusted mahi mahi. I absolutely loved the insalata di pomodoro and fusilli al pesto. For dessert, we ordered the sorbetta al limon, their home made sorbet served in a hollow shell of a lemon. Each bite was filled with crisp, citrus flavor; the perfect ending to a meal on a warm evening.
If you find yourself in Bali, you don’t want to miss out on this gem of a restaurant. There is something for everyone at Zibiru and Bottega Italiana. If you time your visit right, you might even be able to catch a pasta making workshop, or an evening of live jazz.
To keep up to date check out their website www.zibiru.com
Patrick & Kahala