The Brussels hospitality sector has been very badly hit since the start of the health crisis and, sadly, numerous restaurants have been forced to shut for good.
Happily, those that have survived are now emerging from what has been a long, dark tunnel.
They include Osteria Romana, a gem of a restaurant – a little bit of Rome transplanted to Brussels – and run by a couple of real go ahead fellas.
This place was opened nine years ago by the very welcoming Filippo La Vecchia who was joined four years ago by Belgian Cedric Gilot as his business partner.
They have not allowed the lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic to stem the steady progress they have made.
First, they used the enforced closure to refurbish the restaurant, which is situated at the top of Avenue Louise and just before the lovely Bois de Cambre.
It now has a small private dining area which can seat up to six people (reservations must be made well in advance). Look out for the “secret” bookcase entrance to it!
The restaurant itself, which can seat about 24 people, has also had a makeover and there is now a very pleasant seating area at the front where diners can have a pre or post-meal drink.
Filippo, who hails from Rome, and Cedric also came up with a great idea to help boost post pandemic trade – a voucher (value up to €50) which can be used against the cost of a meal for anyone who has had a first does of a coronavirus vaccine (the offer is time limited so it is best to check with the restaurant for details on this).
Not only that, but the two owners have now been able to promote the restaurant as a backdrop for TV and film projects.That is not really surprising, given the wonderfully atmospheric feel of the place. So, do not be surprised if, in the near future, you see Osteria Romana featuring on a TV food show or even a feature film!
More good news is that business is now booming after the terrible impact of the crisis: there was two nightly services (the first, from 7pm-9pm, and the second from 9pm) and both are usually heavily booked.
In fact, the restaurant is becoming more and more “exclusive” all the time, with a table here becoming a “must have” for discerning diners in Brussels.
All this should not come as a surprise because the food here, the main thing, after all, is quite delicious. Filippo, who is in charge of the kitchen, is a highly skilled and experience Italian chef who most certainly knows how to produce top class cuisines from his homeland (which he still visits very regularly).
Many of the pasta dishes are served to guests in the pans in which they have been cooked, all adding to the real authenticity of Osteria Romana.
Starters include bacon and cheese aubergine and pork roasted at low temperature to make it extra crispy. The artichoke starter- served very decoratively as a flower –is another speciality and is cooked twice so as to enhance the taste. It is crispy on the outside but soft inside – a delicious way to start the meal.
Carbonara, probably the signature dish here, is a relatively simple meal but standards can vary widely. You won’t find any better than that produced by Filippo, though.There’s some great wines here and to round off the meal, some mouth watering deserts.
Some new plates have been added to the menu in recent times but, whatever you choose, you can be guaranteed REAL Italian food here.
It is also worth noting that, next door, is a small shop Filippo and Cedric also own which sells genuine Italian produce and goods. Many of the ingredients sold here are also used by Filippo in the kitchen. It is open daily (a light lunch is also available) and there is also one table where up to four people can dine.
There’s also a very hard working team, including Fabio who hails from Sicily and helps guide diners through the card.
Cedric is used to success – he used to run a popular cocktail bar in the St Gery part of town – and his link up with his pal is proving a great success.
Their mission is to bring the finest Italian cuisine to Brussels – and there can be no doubt that with this lovely restaurant, with its intimate, yet cosy and relaxing, surroundings, they have succeeded brilliantly. Highly recommended.
Osteria Romana, Avenue Legrand 11, Brussels 1050
Tel 02 648 1395