Last modified: 02/04/2019
Not far away from the "bourse" in central Brussels, you find a little Italian restaurant and wine bar, the Winehouse Osteria, which serves amazing, home cooked Italian food and offers a large selection of Italian wines, by the bottle and by the glass!
The little corner building which hosts the restaurant is very charming, inside and out, but also very small. The restaurant actually only fits about 20 people at a time and the atmosphere is very cozy and intimate with wooden tables and brick walls. Yet, when the restaurant is full, it has a nice buzz to it, with the laughter of the guests, the clinking of cutlery and the plopping of corks. There are low tables as well as some high tables with high chairs for the guests and on the wall, a large display of the current wine selection.
Due to its small size, I highly recommend booking your table ahead of time, which can be done via phone or via their website. The team usually responds very quickly to any requests and is very professional, friendly and forthcoming and knows a lot about Italian wine. They will gladly help you find the perfect bottle to go along with your meal. Plus, they offer you free water for the table.
Something I really appreciate is that the large selection of wine by the glass. This allows you to venture out of the usual choices of Montepulciano or Chianti and lets you explore different wine regions and types of wines, some which you might not yet have heard of. If you find a wine you really enjoy, you have the possibility to buy the wine directly from the Osteria, to "take away" home with you. All the individual prices are noted in their wine menu. During my last visit I went out on a limb a tried a glass of Cubardi primitivo Salento IGT, 2015 from Schola Sarmenti, a type of wine which was new to me. It turned out to be an excellent barrel aged (red) wine, which I can highly recommend.
Their small menu regularly changes with the season, and they concentrate on cooking simple Italian food with fresh, quality ingredients. This is not your standard Italian eatery and you will be surprised by the creative dishes you'll find on the menu, next to some more traditional meals. Plus, they offer a vegan/gluten free option as starter, main dish as well as dessert, which is still hard to find nowadays. The dishes are usually very creative and innovative. At the moment, they offer pumpkin spaghetti or cannelloni of celeriac, stuffed with pumpkin and chestnuts.
As a starter I can recommend any of their ham or cheese platters, their traditional garlic bruschetta with tomatoes and basil as well as their dishes with burrata. Last time around, I chose goat cheese with candied ginger and lemon and onion jam. Nice, creamy goat cheese, not too strong flavour-wise, topped with sweet onion jam. Dip in with the complementary bread (as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar), this is feel-good-food at its best. The candied ginger was actually a delight. Full ginger flavor without being too overwhelming. Overall, a great dish, only the jam to cheese ratio was a bit off for me. Due to the sweet flavour of the jam, a smaller portion of onions would have already been sufficient.
Winehouse Osteria is my go-to restaurant for when I'm in the mood for good truffle pasta. Fresh, and I assume homemade, tagliolini pasta with truffle shavings and a bit of oil. No cream, none of that hideous truffle oil, just straightforward, simple, quality ingredients, prepared with care; this is so simple but also simply delicious. You actually have a choice between the 100g portion and a 150g portion; I went with the smaller one and together with the starter it was more than enough for me. So much so, that I was too full for dessert this time around.
In or Out?
This place has never disappointed me and is hands down one of my favorite restaurants. I simply love everything about it: the cozy, homey feel, the fresh, homemade food, the friendly people, the wine selection... It is a rare gem and I simply can't find anything that I do not like about it. Therefore, a perfect score is absolutely appropriate and well-deserved. If you ever find yourself in Brussels, this place should be on top of your "where to eat" list!