Eat & Drink

Published on November 1st, 2021 | by Brussels In View


Pasta resto bounces back from pandemic-hit crisis

The new Covid Safe Ticket has been met with some trepidation among many restauranteurs in Brussels and throughout Belgium. The big fear is that ongoing attempts to bounce back from the crippling pandemic-led lockdowns will be stymied by the roll out of the ticket.

From 1 November the ticket applies throughout Belgium, albeit with some slight differences between regions.

Brussels introduced the measures in mid-October and its awareness-raising period is now over with a nationwide roll out in the whole of Belgium.

Several restaurants contacted by this website voiced fears that the measure will deter people from dining out.

But one restaurant “chain” has shown that the scheme can work and help restore some normality to the crisis-hit horeca trade.

Cocina is a mini chain of Italian-inspired restos in Brussels where trade has boomed since such places were allowed to full reopen.

It has three restaurants, in Place Flagey, Chatelain and Ixelles, each focusing on a different aspect of Italian cuisine, plus a deli.

Cocina Chatelain serves pasta dishes while the Flagey branch is a pizzeria and Bistro Nationale, on rue Lannoy in Ixelles is a bistro-style eatery.

The pasta at Cocina Chatelain is (like most other products it serves) sourced directly from Italy, expertly cooked and is, again, proving highly popular with its loyal band of international customers.

The ingredients are shipped in twice a week from Italy and this emphasis on freshness and authenticity is reflected by the fact that you will not find the menu on the restaurant’s website.

The reason for that, explained Lorenzo, director at Cocina Chatelain, is that the choice of dishes changes regularly according to the twice weekly deliveries.

“We change the card so often that there would be no point in having printed menus,” he said.

Due to their popularity there are, though, some mainstays on the menu and these include pasta with truffle (Tagliatelle al Tartufo) and another served with pork cheek  (Strascinati Pesto Di Pistacchio Guanciale).

Other customer favourites include Paccheri Nduja Melanzane Stracciatelle – spicy sausage with aubergine.

A recommended starter dish is the Antipasto Misto, a nice selection of cheese,veg and charcuterie and ideal for sharing.

It really is all pasta here and the vast majority of customers opt for it, but if pasta is not your thing there’s other choices including grilled tuna, steak and a very good selection of carpaccio.

The daily offerings can be scanned on your smartphone at the table. You can also go for the “maxi portions,” much larger pasta dishes which are designed for up to 4 people.

Look out too for a rather unique soft artisanal drink, called “cola” which is home made in Northern Italy, a bit more bitter than its famous namesake but very tasty.

The same goes for the pasta here which is wonderful and the main reason the resto is doing so well, despite the pandemic and things like the Covid Safe Ticket. Credit to head chef Francesco Leonardo and his team, who produce some terrific dishes from the open kitchen.

This nicely furnished resto can seat up to 65 people across two levels.

Florence-born Lorenzo, who arrived in Belgium 18 months and has been with the company since last August, says his customers have readily accepted all restrictions imposed as a result of the ongoing health pandemic.

Even so, he also readily admits that he longs for the day when such impositions as the Covid Safe Ticket are no longer necessary!

“It can be complicated and limits freedom so I hope it won’t be here for too much longer,” he says.

Nationwide, the ticket is compulsory from the age of 16 to access a restaurant or cafe (except the outdoor terrace), go to the gym, and from the age of 12 to visit someone in a hospital or retirement home. Sports clubs, museums, cinemas and theatres are also affected – but only in Brussels and Wallonia. The Covid Safe Ticket is also required to attend a cultural event bringing together more than 200 people indoors or 400 outdoors (in Flanders) and more than 50 indoors and 200 outdoors in Wallonia and Brussels. In Wallonia and Flanders, which introduced the new measures on 1 November, there is no “tolerance period” when fines will not be issued.

Cocina Chatelain
Rue Washington 149, Brussels
T. +32 (0)2 850 5990

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