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On a rainy day a couple of weeks ago I decided to try Unico, an Italian restaurant not too far from Saint-Boniface in Brussels. I had actually read mixed reviews about it and was really curious to see for myself what it was all about. Luckily, I arrived quite early and found a table immediately; half an hour later the place was packed and not everybody could be accommodated. Piece of advice: make reservations, especially if you plan to come in a larger group, as the space is tiny and has only a few tables.

Unico is a charming venue run by Sinem Usta and Elisabeth Argazzi, both ex employees of Caffè Al Dente. The concept is very Parisian: a cave à manger with an open kitchen, quite cosy and intimate indeed. I loved the Italian products and wine etiquettes that were beautifully displayed on the shelves, as well as the vintage feel of the antique mismatched plates and wooden old chairs – it’s always nice to dine in a place with character. A chalkboard hanging on the wall displayed the daily dishes which change regularly. The choice is limited, but this is all part of Unico’s charm.

Although we were toying with the idea of going for the “Je me laisse faire” menu, i.e. a surprise menu comprising six tapas dishes, we finally decided to try some of the à la carte options which seemed tempting. After ordering we received a complimentary amuse-bouche, a tiny but much welcome bowl of baby prawns. We started with the excellent stracciatella (think of creamy mozzarella – still drooling just thinking about it!), some mortadella with truffle (very good too) and the marinated roasted red peppers (too much vinegar for my taste). Unfortunately, our main dishes were a bit of a disappointment: the fish tartare was a tiny portion with no greens and the sea food pasta was rather blunt and too expensive.

Although we were not blown away by our meal in Unico, we did enjoyed our starters (delicious and really good value for money), so next time we’ll just stick to some tapas and a glass of Italian wine!

Address: Rue Longue Vie 48, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 473 496493

*UPDATE Aug 16: Unfortunately, Unico is now closed.*

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Sandy (@smarksthespots)