Its carbonara pasta has made Osteria Romana one of the most popular restaurants in Brussels. Avenue Legrand, between Bois de la Cambre and Avenue Louise, Chef Filippo La Vecchia serves an average of 40 to 45 dishes of carbonara pasta on 50 covers in the evening. To be savored in the pan that was used to prepare its own portion, the pasta preserves the flavors, because the cooking has not been interrupted. But this is not the only secret of its success. Between exclusive recipes and fetish addresses, meeting with the one who made the capital the reference in Italian cooking.
Where does your passion for cooking come from?
I grew up in Rome, Italy, with my grandmother who cooked all the time. At 20 I went to the United States, I worked for three years as a diver and I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant even if it was not easy. That's when I started to get passionate about catering beyond just cooking. I'm interested in 360 degrees. I cook, bartender, I take care of the room, etc. It is a means of knowing all aspects.
Your cooking in two words?
Taste and quality. We use the best quality of ingredient of the world that we will look for directly in Italy. It costs more but it makes the difference. Especially with Italian cuisine, which is quite simple, you have to focus on the quality and taste of two or three ingredients on the plate, no more. Because otherwise, the palace can not keep up. I always have the habit of saying that when you eat something, either you keep it in mind or it's useless.
Your favorite dish?
Carbonara pasta obviously. I love to cook, eat and everyone comes to us for that. 90% of the dishes that come out of the kitchen are carbonara. On a party, on 50-55 covers, we make minimum 40-45 carbonara. And noon is the same.
Which dish do you prefer to cook?
Those who take the most time to cook, such as offal, such as wagyu tongue and guts, and sweetbreads. We start from a product of incredible quality, that we can not eat as is, and we get to make something that melts like butter. I love creating this.
The secret ingredient of your pasta carbonara?
I would say pork cheek. It's the ingredient you can not change. Many people think it's bacon, but it's not the same at all. Then there is the Percorino, which is unavoidable. In general, people use parmesan, but it has nothing to do. And then, there are eggs, we do not use any eggs.
A dish that you succeed to hit?
Pasta Cacio e Pepe. There are almost no ingredients: pecorino, pepper and cooking water. So it's hard to miss them. You still need to have the technique to cook because there is not a lot of food, but once you have it, you can not miss them anymore.
And the one you miss?
I would not say I miss it, but lately I'm trying to cook lobster at a low temperature. And I have not reached the optimal result yet. It's maybe 100 times that I'm doing it again, and I'm not there yet. The problem is that it is very expensive. To experiment with a lobster to get to perfection, it has a price.
Your guilty pleasure?
What are the essential products in your fridge?
Fruit, fresh juices, yogurts, champagne, and a small box of caviar. It's a weird fridge. But since I'm almost never at home, I'm always at the restaurant, there are only products for the morning and the evening.
I hate fresh cream, it's stronger than me. I'm at war with cream, that's what everyone puts in the carbonara because it's easier, but it's not like that. The real cream of carbo, it is mounted like a sabayon.
If you only had to eat one dish until the end of your life?
Champagne-caviar. The first will clean the mouth and the caviar has a great iodized taste.
A dish that you recommend on your menu (besides the carbo)?
The Tonnarelli Cacio and Pepe di Penja.
What are your favorite addresses for shopping in Brussels?
Right next to my house, there is a little crazy shop, where I buy all my fruits and vegetables, even for the restaurant. It's called Kissi Primeur , it's very small, it's more expensive, but I do not care, because I know that the taste is incredible. However, in Italian groceries, there is nothing here and it is a concern. We only find poor quality products at exorbitant prices.
A restaurant that you love in Brussels?
Yamayu Santatsu on the Chaussee of Ixelles. It is a Japanese restaurant that does not look, it is not very pretty but it is incredible. There are some crazy tastes on the plate. It is really good.
Your best places in Rome?
The Taverna Trilussa restaurant. It's the best of the best for Roman cuisine. It's also the place-to-be because all the stars go there.
The carbonara pasta recipe from Osteria Romana
- Organic eggs of hens of Marans
- Pecorino Romano
- Amatrice's pork cheek
- Mix of black peppers
For this traditional recipe of Carbonara, it will be necessary to bring a pan of warm water slightly salted. Once the water is boiling, the dough is immersed and left to concentrate on the rest of the preparation. The beaten egg yolks are collected in a container to mix with Pecorino, as well as the melted fat obtained by cooking the cheeks of pigs. Seared and crispy, they are added to the preparation. The pasta is then mixed by lengthening the whole with a little hot water. The remaining Pecorino is then grated on the dish, which is sprinkled with a dash of freshly ground black pepper.