Restaurant MangiaSempre (Brussels)

© Elisabeth Debourse

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The scorching Umbrian sun illuminates this sleepy corner of Forest near Boulevard Van Haelen, where you’ll find the generous Giulia Bevilacqua, a former translator who switched to pulling pints in her adopted city. Her stroke of genius? MangiaSempre, a deli/épicerie that seats 10, where you can nibble on focaccia and pasta squeezed in around the bar, all while nonchalantly throwing back a beer or two. It’s an art that she’s perfected alongside her partner and brewer Florian van Roy, who goes by the moniker of “Chef Flo” every Saturday when he takes control of the kitchen, mastering mantecatura as if he grew up in Italy himself. The day we went, there was taleggio to embrace the perfectly al dente strozzapreti enhanced with spicy salsiccia… which we wolfed down without protest, before some perfect cannoli stuffed with ricotta and dotted with crushed Sicilian pistachios. Another option is the pasta of the day taken to go (homemade gnocchi with four cheeses the day we were there), the charcuterie patiently waiting to be sliced on the counter, plus the selection of canned goods, pasta (Lagano and Rummo), sauces and sweets in the épicerie section. Forza Giulia! // Kiko Zushi

FEELING THIRSTY? A fridge packed full of beers and kegs filled with the good stuff (lager from the Brasserie de la Mule at €3.50 for 250 ml, Cantillon gueuze at €5.50 for 250 ml), bottles of wine, including a handful of natural options, or even a valpolicella from Garganuda served by the glass (€6) to pair with your pasta dish.
PRICE: Pasta €15 (€2.79 for 100 g to go), focaccia sandwich €7, dessert €6-7.

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