We visited two of Brussels’ finest Italian restaurants.
Chef Filippo La Vecchia uses only the very best ingredients available to produce his top-notch Italian gastronomy. He is from Rome (hence the name), and that region’s food finds its way into many of his signature dishes, such as the Baby Artichokes cooked Roman-style.
He is also a very patient man – it took him some time to find just the right furniture or a decorative item for that little space in the far corner. He looked at empty space on the wall and said: “I will never be finished. But I am not in a hurry – it has to be right.” Proof of his dedication to detail also arrives with the meals – some are served in beautiful reconditioned, gleaming pots and pans. It all lends itself to a convivial atmosphere in a spacious ground floor with very high ceilings, somehow remaining cosy but not cramped.
The food is excellent, especially the perfectly cooked scallops and a powerful carbonara that is unlike any I have ever tasted, a classic Roman dish, with browned guanciale, egg yolk, pecorino and pepper.
In this excellent trattoria – brought to life by three friends who are passionate about Italian gastronomy – the kitchen is not just open, it’s up close and personal. If you are at the bar the chef and his assistants are right in front of you, their busy hands cutting and sprinkling. And there’s the sound of the chef Antonio Coppola barking out a reply to a client at the other end of the room, explaining what is in the dish he has just ordered from an ever-changing menu.
And their fine grocery store (negozio) offers a careful selection of Italian products, sometimes imported from small local producers, sometimes prepared ‘à la maison’ based on old recipes. You will discover the restaurant’s pantry, packed with handpicked fruit and vegetables, cured meats and quality cheeses, fresh pasta and ravioli, olive oil, wine and other wonders from Italian soil.