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How new Aberdeen restaurant intends to offer diners an authentic taste of the Balkans

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The first of its kind in the city, Terra e Mare Bar & Restaurant has community at the heart of its offering.

Opening a new restaurant during an ongoing pandemic would, for many, appear to be a brave decision.

But Gabriel Daicoiamu has done just that, introducing a new Italian and Balkan restaurant and bar to Aberdeen despite the restrictions around hospitality.

Gabriel said by launching Terre e Mare Bar and Restaurant, he hopes to bring a number of communities together, and his number one priority is to give Italian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Greek and Turkish people a taste of their home countries.

And he will do so by offering up unique seafood and meat dishes from the Mediterranean and eastern Europe, which Gabriel says guests will not find elsewhere in the city.

The venue can seat around 60 people socially distanced at 1.5 metres.

Cuisine for the local community

Situated on Crown Street in the former Heat & Dust restaurant, the Romanian-born entrepreneur, who has lived in Aberdeen since 2007, is looking forward to welcoming more customers through his doors.

His first hospitality venture, Gabriel has a wealth of businesses under his belt as he already owns a construction company which specialises in restoring old buildings, and a barber shop called Vintage Barbers Lounge on George Street.

Chef Salvatore Natale.

He said: “I wanted to have a restaurant dedicated to making fresh food for people the way they like it. I wanted to create a space for the community where they can feel like they can get a taste of home.

“The idea was to do something for people from Balkan, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Turkey who were always saying there wasn’t anywhere they could enjoy their own national dishes.

A huge freshly caught lobster.

“There’s thousands of people living in the region who hail from these countries, and I think it’s important there is somewhere they can enjoy traditional cuisine.”

Coffee shop addition

Employing six staff to cater to diner’s needs, the restaurant can comfortably seat around 60 people, all socially distanced to around 1.5 metres.

As well as offering lunch and dinner initially, there will also be a coffee shop area where customers will be able to relax and indulge in freshly baked goods and quality Italian coffee.

A range of dishes available for guests to devour.

“There’s 16 tables of four and we have around 60 odd covers we can accommodate. The restaurant is primarily a 1.5 metre socially distanced space, but there are a few tables at one metre back-to-back,” said Gabriel.

“From 11am to 5pm we run a lunch menu and you can enjoy either the Italian or Balkan version.

Owner Gabriel Daicoiamu, chef Salvatore Natale and Anamaria Marginean.

“We’re looking to launch a coffee shop at the front of the venue to offer something to the morning market where we’ll have couches to lounge on where they can enjoy a fresh bake, like a croissant, and Italian coffee.

“We’re open seven days a week and operating within the Scottish Government’s legislation of closing at 8pm in our tier. We do takeaway by collection until 10pm just now, but we’re in the process of speaking with Just Eat, too. When we can we will open much later.”

The coffee area will be located where the comfy sofas are located.

Ice counters

With specific ice counters in place to give diners the chance to pick the different produce they would like to eat, be that seafood or meat, Gabriel says getting them involved in the experience will add a different element to his restaurant’s offering.

“Our head chef is from Ischia, Italy near Napoli and is a keen fisherman. He studied with a three star Michelin chef and worked along side him for many years,” said Gabriel.

The restaurant will serve up a variety of seafood dishes.

“We wanted to give people a real authentic flavour of the different countries we’re showcasing. If the dish you order is Italian you should feel like you’re in Italy when eating our food, if you’re eating Eastern European food, again you should feel like you’re enjoying it there with all those traditional flavours.

“Everything is made fresh and we make our own sausages. The meat is all prepared on the premises and we have steak, which has an Italian twist, and seafood which you can choose from our different ice displays. We’ve also got Balkan food like the big Dracula’s platter. There’s salmon, beef tripe soup which is very well-known in the Balkans, and so much more.

“You can also pick your own steak from our display and chef will prepare it to your liking.”

Dracula’s platter.

But it’s not just different dishes he’s looking to introduce, he also wants to bring back live music to the city now the Scottish Government has finally lifted the ban which allows restaurants and bars to play music in their venues again.

He added: “We are looking forward to bringing a live band to the venue now that the government has lifted the ban.

“In time, when we are allowed and it is safer, we will bring musicians from Italy, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. We’ll have a singer or a live band every month which will be great for the guests and those performing.”