Ahhh, pasta. Pasta is probably one of Bryan's favorite foods in the world, no matter where in the world he is. Not surprisingly, we discovered the much loved Pasta Divina when we were in Brussels. It soon became one of our favorite places in Brussels.
Family Owned Not-So-Hidden Gem
This very, very popular family-owned restaurant has all of the right characteristics. It's located right in the center of old Brussels, steps away from the beautiful and historic Grand Place. The family that own the restaurant has a true gift of hospitality.
The mother makes all of the pasta by hand (and cooks each dish to order) while the father roams around the dining area serving wine and chatting with the guests. The daughter works the front desk, every night kindly turning walk-ins away because the entire restaurant is (yet again) booked out for the night.
I soon figured out the secret. Because our hotel was within walking distance of Pasta Divina, I knew I could walk up to the restaurant during lunchtime to make a booking for dinner. They didn't use any digital apps for booking (just a good old, paper notebook!), so walking up seemed to work the best.
The focus, of course, is the pasta, but everything is quite good. We enjoyed bresaola (dried beef), fresh salads, as well as tons and tons of pasta.
All of the pasta is handmade and freshly made that morning by the mother of the family. They also offer various imported dry pastas that we didn't try, but also looked great.
Out of all the restaurants we visited in Brussels, I think we visited this one the most, dare I say 3-4 times during our 7 week-stay?
There was something about the warm hospitality, delicious food, reasonable prices, and friendly hosts that just kept drawing us back over and over again.
Nice Wines and Good Beer
Like virtually every restaurant in Brussels, they also offered excellent beers. We liked getting the Tripel Karmeliet on tap, an excellent beer that won Gold Medal at the World Beer Awards in 2008 and according to the menu at Pasta Divina, one of the top beers in the world.
The wines were good as well and very reasonably priced.
When chatting with the daughter during one of our visits, our conversation actually touched upon Hong Kong. She had visited Hong Kong with her family as part of a cruise just recently, and she spoke highly of her visit. We lamented about how the world had changed so quickly with the political unrest (at that time) on our minds. How little did we know how much more the world would soon change . . .
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The restaurant is located in Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a beautiful outdoor shopping "arcade" with numerous chocolate chops, cafes, and my favorite Belgian waffle place.
Above is a photo of me at the usually very bustling Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert the first morning of Brussels' lockdown. On this day all shops were asked to closed. We came to bid farewell before our flight back to Hong Kong.
We also took a good-by shot next to Pasta Divina before leaving, since this was our last dinner in Brussels before our flight back to Hong Kong the next day. At this time we knew it was our last time dining at this restaurant for awhile. Who knew it would be at least another year (and more) that we would end up being stuck in Hong Kong.
Hope for the Future
I recently looked online and it looks like Pasta Divina has survived the pandemic thus far (phew!) and are still open for business. They are still serving up warm, hearty pasta dishes and bringing lots of joy to many people. It hasn't been easy. We know Belgium has struggled quite a bit this past year.
I have a feeling that if we were to go back to Brussels now, it may not look very much like the Brussels that we got to know just a year ago. Let's hope for steady and healthy recovery as things look like they are gradually taking a turn for the better.
Pasta Divina Brussels
16 rue de la montagne
1000 Brussels, Belgium