Good news for lovers of pizza: there’s a new place in Brussels that makes pizza worthy of the name.
You can count the decent restaurants on Vrijheidsplein/Place de la Liberté on one hand. Because it’s a neighbourhood full of offices, basic snacks make up the lion’s share. But recently, a quality Italian establishment has opened there. Run by a family from Abruzzo, Basils is their first restaurant outside of Italy. In an intelligent approach, the place is centred on good products imported directly from the motherland.
The decor features wooden chairs and tables covered in tiles with floral motifs. There is nothing special about the setting, aside from an oven covered in white mosaics. That lunchtime, we were famished when we sat down to eat. Without being excessive, the menu includes a good variety of dishes: mixed platter (€15), vegetarian platter (€12), fresh pasta of the day (€15 to 19), meats (€17 to 19), pizzas (€10 to 18), etc.
Our appetites whetted by the smell of cooked dough escaping from the pretty oven, we opted for that traditional dish for which Italy is known throughout the world. What made it all the more tempting was that the current special was unusual, a pizza made with creamy asparagus sauce and speck, the excellent cured ham from Alto Adige.
For €18, the dish was exceptional, the dough beautifully soft and tender, in the purest Neapolitan tradition, with very slightly burnt edges. It was a white pizza, in other words with no tomato sauce, and with a blend of melted mozzarella and asparagus pesto. It melted in the mouth, brought to life with rocket and whole basil leaves. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a big ball of burrata in the centre.
To taste, the combination was to die for: the smokiness of the speck, the full-bodied flavour of the cheese, the bitterness of the rocket, and the freshness of the basil. It was remarkable. To accompany this delicacy as one would in the land of Dante, we chose an Italian craft beer from the MezzoPasso brewery. We particularly recommend the “Crevette Blanche” (€6), a fresh and citric take on a very Belgian drink: blanche. It confirmed what we already thought: Belgian-Italian relations have a lot more to offer.