Clouds and silver linings spring to mind in describing the fortunes of one Brussels restaurateur.
The recession, coupled with the lingering impact of the health pandemic, sadly put paid to one of the restaurants launched by Renaud Waeterloos.
The cost of living crisis finally put paid to Il Gastonomico, probably one of the smallest restaurants in Brussels.
But, as they say, every cloud does have a silver lining and, just as its closure last year represented a setback it also presented an opportunity for Renaud and his team.
The opportunity was to extend Ricotta & Parmesan, another of his restos, which is next door to Il Gastronomico.
And that is exactly what has happened, meaning Ricotta & Parmesan is now able to seat up to 30 more people than was the case before.
That is very good news for the many folk who flock to this resto, an Italian trattoria which first opened in 1999.
It has proved a huge success with both locals and tourists alike (it’s located close to the city’s famous Grand Place).
As the two restos were next to each other, the owner simply made a few adjustments to extend Ricotta & Parmesan.
The extra space will be welcomed by its many customers who enjoy its wood-fired pizzas and pasta. Its particular speciality is that one can choose a type of pasta and combine it with the sauce of your choice.
It is a great idea and just one of the many great things about this place that set it apart rather from the many other restos also serving pizza and pasta in Brussels.
Another great feature, apart from the food, is the actual décor which is fabulous. The walls are completely covered in all manner of artefacts, notably kitchen utensils, along with huge montages of old black and white photographs, many of them members of the Waeterloos family.
In the hustle and bustle of such an intimate resto it is easy to overlook such things but one recommendation is to just stop and pause to look at the “decorations” while you have the chance. It is impressive.
Back to the food and, again, you will not be disappointed. There are 16 pizzas to choose from and some start from as little as €11.30. As with other things on the menu they are symbols denoting which is a chef’s speciality, a resto favourite, vegetarian, new or a traditional dish.
There are loads of different types of pasta to choose from, including penne, rigatoni, gnocchi, mafaldini, tagliatelle, linguine and paccheri. If you prefer gluten-free pasta that’s not a probem (just ask for their selection).
And then there are the sauces to go with your pasta and, boy, is there a choice here too. The sauces are grouped under four headings: meat, fish, veggie and cheese and you can choose what you like.
Another option is something from the “les Incontournables” (essentials) and, here, the customer faves include croquette, aubergine alla parmigiana, salade de chevre can antipasta della casa. None will disappoint.
But that’s not all. The card is actually quite long and certainly varied and yet another possibility is one of the main dishes. Here the current “best sellers” include risotto a la crème de truffe, escalope de veau alla parmigiana and mafaldini fraiches a la crème de truffe blanche.
It would be understandable if you struggle to make your mind up about what to have and, if so, then the welcoming staff will be happy to assist. They include its Greek-born co manager Atanasios who readily explains the lovely menu for diners while overseeing a very busy and well run operation (along with fellow manager, Italian Filippo).
The prices, considering the excellent quality of the food and wines/drink, are very democratic, another reason for its impressive popularity.
The owner deserves real credit for keeping things going so successfully at this and his other restos which include UNIK and Zotte Mouche (all in the same street) despite the twin attack of a health and economic crisis.
His hard working team also deserve great praise too. Thanks to their efforts Brussels is still managing to maintain its great reputation as a culinary capital of Europe.
Ricotta & Parmesa
Rue de l’Ecuyer 31, Brussels
02 502 8082