Is delicious pizza enough to make you keep going somewhere? The answer is no. If a place has no soul, it’s an empty shell. Fico provides glaring evidence of this.
There is a world of difference between a business and a life’s work. Fico, the new osteria and pizzeria on Amerikaansestraat/rue Américaine, opened by the Bruno family (who brought us Senzanome, the excellent gourmet Italian restaurant in the Zavel/Sablon), is the perfect example to illustrate that separation.
A business is your meal ticket. It’s all about money. It requires intelligence and know-how. A life’s work means effort, sweat, all the difficulty of bringing a creation to life. It is something that can only be accomplished by putting your all into it.
A life's work
This brings us back to Fico, where, at lunchtime the other day, despite no injury being done to us, we felt wronged. The experience served to remind us that, in our eyes, running a restaurant is a life’s work, not a business. To be completely clear, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the food we were served. It was delicious, in fact.
We had a pizza called the “Antonio” (€19). Served on a wooden board with a cool-looking serrated knife, it was one of the best we’ve tasted in Brussels, combining black olive tapenade, mozzarella di bufala, and tomato confit, all flavoured with dried oregano and wonderful Cetara anchovies. The dough was perfect, crisp at the edges and soft in the centre, following the Neapolitan tradition.
Not an ounce of passion
Sadly, this delight was served to us with an attitude of complete indifference. On our visit, the service seemed to have checked out. There was not an ounce of passion, which is understandable if you’re selling nuts and bolts, but not pizzas like this. The beautiful meticulous decor, marble tables, seats and benches in delicate colours, blinds, and soft lighting, did nothing to alleviate this bleak impression.
If you’re looking for somewhere with energy, on the other side of the street, directly opposite, there’s a little place that doesn’t look like much but whose ovens radiate that warmth Fico so sorely lacks. Called Al’Bacio, this unassuming joint displays all the elbow grease and good vibrations that you would expect from people who are totally passionate about what they do.
> Fico. Amerikaansestraat 118 rue Américaine, Elsene/Ixelles, di/ma/Tu > za/sa/Sa 12 > 14.30 & 19 > 22.30