Published on February 22nd, 2022 | by Brussels In View0
Top Italian resto goes from strength to strength – despite the pandemic
Amid all the doom and gloom surrounding the never-ending health pandemic – now approaching its 2nd anniversary – there have been some nuggets of hope.
These include the way a couple of Belgian entrepreneurs have bounced back from the ravages of the coronavirus crisis.
Filippo La Vecchia and Cedric Gilot run Osteria Romana, a restaurant located at the top end of Brussels’ Avenue Louise.
It’s come through a period of pandemic-enforced closure – an experience that led to many such places closing down for good, stronger than ever.
The place is now usually fully booked most nights and has been chosen as an “ambassador” in Brussels and Belgium by Dom Perignon, the famous champagne maker.
Filippo and Cedric are now plan to expand things by opening a cocktail bar next door to the restaurant – ideal for a drink before or after a meal.
Not only that, but the two owners have now been able to promote the restaurant as a backdrop for TV and film projects (not really surprising, given the wonderfully atmospheric feel of the place).
So good is his reputation as a chef that Filippo himself is now being invited to attend recordings of TV cookery shows in Belgium so do not be surprised if, in the near future, you see Osteria Romana featuring on a TV food show.
It all spells good news for the two business partners after what they readily admit has been a “hellish” couple of years.
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 and, in some ways (with its all Italian team), a little bit of Roma transplanted to Brussels.
It was opened by Filippo, who hails from Rome, over nine years ago and he was later joined by Belgian-born Cedric as his business partner. They used the enforced closure to refurbish things, adding a small private dining area which can seat up to six people (reservations are necessary) and it is accessed via a charming “secret” bookcase entrance.
The restaurant itself, which can seat 25 people, also now has very pleasant seating area at the front where diners can have an aperitif or post-meal coffee.
Business really is now booming with two nightly services (the first, from 7pm-9pm, and the second from 9.30pm to midnight).
The way it’s bounced back is a surprise because the food here, is delicious. Filippo remains in charge of the kitchen but has been recently joined by another Italian, Martina, his sous chef who is clearly learning fast from the “master.”
He says, “Many chefs are known for their big egos but not her. She is happy to learn and we work as a team.”
Filippo himself is a highly skilled and experienced chef who most certainly knows how to produce top class cuisines from his homeland (which he still visits very regularly to see his nine-year-old son Gaël who was born a few months after the resto opened).
Many of the pasta dishes are served to guests in the pans in which they have been cooked, all adding to this restaurant’s authenticity.
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, Filippo’s famous signature dish, is, he says, relatively simple but standards can vary widely. You won’t find any better than that produced by Filippo and Martina, though. There’s also 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 great Italian food here.
There’s also a very hard working team who will guide diners through the lovely card.
Cedric is used to success – he used to run a popular cocktail bar – and his partnership with Filippo has proved an even bigger success which spells good news for those who value good food … at reasonable prices.
The pair also have another special landmark looming: the tenth anniversary of Osteria Romana later this year!
Osteria Romana, Av Legrand 11,Brussels
T. +32 (0)2 648 1395