Via Lamanna is stylish and buzzy with four separate elements: a bar-lounge with large terrace for casual dining and drinking; an enoteca for apéros and nibbles; a gastronomic restaurant with high-end food and prices to match; and a cantina where you can pick up the ingredients to try and recreate the dishes at home.
The bar-lounge was busy the Thursday evening we visited, its brown leather banquettes and bar stools mostly taken. It offers a large selection of apéros, antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci, with a substantial drinks list. My Caprese salad was the best I’ve had – a bowl spilling over with cherry plum tomatoes, scarlet and juicy, topped with a hunk of buffalo mozzarella and a scattering of basil. And it was accompanied by a generous bread basket with focaccia, breadsticks, warm rolls and a dish of plump olives.
A primo piatto of spinach and ricotta ravioli, lavished with butter, was just the right quantity and texture, while secondo choices included a dozen meat, fish and seafood options, at about €20 each. A fruit salad with vanilla syrup followed for dessert; the jewel colours of strawberry, redcurrant, melon and blackberry were pretty to look at but could have stood a little more syrup to counter some acidity. This is simple, good quality food, done well – count on €45 per head in the bar-lounge for three courses plus coffee and water. With its relaxed and unstuffy service, this is a real taste of Italy.
233 Avenue Louise, tel 02.626.16.00
Since the publication of this review, the name of the restaurant has been changed to Via Louiza.