I used to live in Italy for quite some time and miss the good food. Of course there are plenty of good and sometimes even better Italian restaurants in Berlin, but most of them are being "too German" for my taste. By "too German" I dont mean the food, but rather the entire athmosphere...
Lavanderia Vecchia in Berlin Neukölln has finally brought the perfect combination of great tasting Italian food and authentic Italian athmosphere. Hidden in the second backyard of a typicall Berlin building, Lavanderia Vecchia is a good kept secret for us food enthusiats. The area is not really inviting and one would have never guessed that in such an area, such great food can be served. But maybe because it is not in a hip-spot or even typical spot for Berlin, makes it special and it gives it the extra edge.
Lavanderia Vecchia means "the old laundry"...and you can actually see a washing machine (which is working) and laundy hanging around (clean sheats of course...no panties or such). It is a mixture of being in a private home and some Italian piazza.
They only serve set menues and it always starts at 8PM! With thirteen people, our party was the biggest. There were two-three more tables with 4-6 people, the rest were couples. There are 40 places in total. As soon as we sat down the starters were served. There were different plates served with vitello tonnato, carpaccio, pulpo, mussels, caprese, peppers, calamaris, polenta, bruschetta...it all tasted very good. As primo piatto we got risotto with pumpkin and the secondo piatto was rabbit served with potatos. The desert was some sort of cake which was good...but cant really remember what it was since my concentration was more towards the wine at that point.
Next to the food, within the menu was included all you can drink red and white wine, as well as water. I can only say that the white wine was very good (Italian from Lazio - called "Savio"). The red seemed fine as well, as I was told. After the dinner, we "met" at the bar for a digestivo and coffee....and here is the only thing that really did not fit at all into the entire setting and athmosphere: in Italy, when being guest at a restaurant with a fun group of people that all pay at least 45€ per head...the owner will throw a round of Averna in the end...or more. Here, when asking for a second one, I was told that I already had my "one digestivo" as the menu states and thats it! I was shocked and didnt know what to reply to that...
The owners, a German couple, are nice and try very hard...but, even though she used to live in Lazio, dont really fit into the entire surrounding. They created little Italy and are the biggest tourist in their own world. It takes more than the perfect combination of great food and authentic athmosphere to be part of the "dolce vita" sort of live..
Nevertheless, props for trying and thanks to Renate and Andreas for opening Lavanderia Vecchia for us! I am sure that despite this little mistake they made in hosting and the fact that by midnight we were almost told to leave...(they close early since after the menu everybody goes...), I will go back and try it again! Forza Roma!
To sum it up: one of the best Italian food served in Berlin combined with a great athmosphere make Lavanderia Vecchia worth the travel to Neukölln. Too bad that the owners are being a bit to stiff and that the athmosphere and overall positive experience has to end abruptly around midnight.
Restaurant Lavanderia Vecchia
Telefon: 030 - 62722152
Telefax: 030 - 62722151
Here some more impressions: