Italians, like the Irish, have historically been migrants and on each expat assignment there will inevitably be some, chatting away in their beautiful, lyrical sounding language. Italians are always plugged in to the food scene of the cities where they find themselves, especially the best ingredients from their home land. Mr B and I are fortunate enough to have lots of Italian friends and colleagues and thanks to them have begun to compile a list of good restaurants and stores to pick up delicious things I thought worth sharing:
- Antichi Sapori Italiani on rue de Bailli 73, is a great example of the many Italian traiteurs in town. This is a brilliant concept, found both in market stalls and stores such as this, perfect for remedial wives in need of fast, ready but home-made options for dinner. As well as ready to eat pastas, they sell all kinds of deli products, biscuits and wine.
- A very recent discovery is Italia Autentica, an amazing couple of supermarkets gathering products from all over Italy. The drawback are the odd locations (Mr B and I missed the one in Drogenbos by a frustrating few hundred metres the first time) but this just gives the whole process a greater sense of adventure. Be warned, these supermarkets are extremely popular so it is best to get there early. A huge wine selection from all over the country, a massive choice of dry pasta, oils, frozen foods, fresh bread and a full deli counter are on offer. Mr B highly recommends the Tuscan sausages.
- At Christmas, Stival Mercato on rue Vanderkindere 540 in Uccle provided lots of authentic continental treats for family and friends in the UK. A good amount of choice with a neighbourhood feel.
- Those in search of good Napolitan pizza (and many friends argue the best pizza in town hands down) should look no further than Fratelli la Bufala in the perennially popular Chatelain area of town.
- Fornostar on the aptly named Quai au bois bruler 65 near Place Ste Catherine is a favourite of an Umbrian friend who has in turn shown us that this is a great choice when you have visitors, with a wide range of exciting pizzas and the handy location in the city centre for drinks afterwards.
- Mr B and I also love the student favourite Dea’s pizza on rue du Germoir 3 for take aways.
- Osteria Romana on Avenue Louise and Toscana 21 on the Sablon come highly recommended.
- I’m a bit reluctant to divulge the last choice for this list, given after my first visit I realised it is one of those absolute hidden gems with incredibly authentic food and passionate chefs that can quickly spiral to the top of a “must do” list but I’m sharing it selflessly as good restaurants deserve lots of support! The fact it is normally only open at lunchtime simply adds to its mystique (although if you can rustle up a group of 10, they’ll open exclusively for you in the evenings). It is Il Ramo Verde on rue de Toulouse in Etterbeek (very obscure location but again, worth tracking down). Autumn dishes are a particular speciality – a must for truffle lovers!
- As a non-coffee drinker, I am only going to dip my toes into this. There are plenty of Italians in Brussels who will lament the lack of good espresso in town, while others hold the Natural Caffee on rue Breydel 50 in high estime (though not the other branches interestingly), while others are celebrating the opening of a real coffee house at the Pl du Luxembourg end of rue d’Arlon.
Where do you go for your Italian fix in Brussels?