It has been almost a year to the day since Tal-Villagg opened its doors, much to the delight of the Lija locals and foodies from further afield. We caught up with owner/manager Johan to talk about what it’s been like.

You’d think that with his vast experience and the quality of the experience on offer at Tal-Villagg, Johan would really have nothing to worry about. Still, he will admit that at the start, he was willing to give the venture a test run and then decide whether to keep going from there. The tiny venue has now become a second home not only for Johan and his wife Lucienne, but also for their guests.

Tal villagg restaurant in Lija

“It feels like our clients are sitting in our living room, sharing a meal and a drink with us,” Johan says, before going on to explain that despite his years of experience in the restaurant business, he had never had the opportunity to build relationships with his customers like he does now.

The short menu and the small size of the establishment mean that every meal is an intimate affair and Johan explains that it is not unusual for different groups of customers to start conversations with one another over a bottle of wine.

The success of private events is also a testament to Johan’s attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile for his customers. He enjoys creating tailor-made menus to suit his customers, whose preferences he has memorised, and there has been no shortage of appreciation for his hard work. Customers realise that what Johan offers them is hard to come by in a food scene that is becoming increasingly preoccupied with fanfare.

Tal villagg Lija Restaurant

The menu, although only occupying a small chalkboard on the wall at Tal-Villagg, is evidence of Johan’s experience with fine dining. He enjoys offering dishes that are a throwback to the cooking you remember eating at your grandma’s dinner table, but with some extra oomph – an unusual ingredient, an unexpected twist.

Tal-Villagg has set down some deep roots in this cosy little venue in Lija, and it’s clear that Johan has come up with a winning formula that customers love and make them come back time and again.

© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Rachel Agius