Belgian cuisine, at least as it is known in the outside world, consists of just a few potentially delicious things. They are: steamed mussels, French fries, Belgian endive, good chocolate and of course amazing beer. All of these things—except Belgian endive—are served at Resto and clearly a good amount of care has gone into the beer and wine list as much as the food. This neighborhood restaurant & bar is an American restaurant that serves Belgian food much the same way a Japanese or Italian restaurant serve sushi or carpaccio. Resto, which is French slang for “casual restaurant” gets the hardest part right by serving beautifully flavored dishes which can be nicely paired with beer to add a complexity to every dish. If you find yourself being indecisive and need any assistance with the beer and wine list, the staff are very knowledgeable and can help you pick the perfect pairings for the food you order and each beer is cutely served with its own signature pint glass.
The Gastropub styled space is intimate yet slightly theatrical with a copper ceiling, beige walls and a big chalkboard filled with piggy doodles showing the days specials. The tables are woodsy and the chairs are aluminum giving the restaurant a cozy yet stylish pub vibe. The real centerpiece of the Resto is the lively bar which is decorated with glassware, a back mirror and lots of cool people.
The drink list includes a lot of Italian, French, and Spanish wines, but Resto’s heartbeat is in the amazing selection of Flemish microbrews to go with regional cuisine. The starters consist of a variety of creative finger foods. A starter of Tete de Couchon is not as scary as it sounds (Tete de couchon means “Pigs Head”). Served up slider style the Tete de Coucon sandwiches are filled with braised pork (not mini pig’s heads!), cilantro and pickled carrots inside slightly charred bread and are absolutely delicious with a kasteel rouge red beer. The chicory salad is also a really big winner with surprisingly tasty, crispy pig ears sitting on top of a soft egg, frisee and warm guanicale dressing. You can’t visit Resto without trying the deviled eggs. Served up on crispy pork toast, each egg just slides into and then melts in your mouth. Mains such as the Moules Frittes or Steak & Frittes are great dinner options if you can handle the large portions. You might be quite full by the time you’ve finished your mains but trying a dessert shouldn’t even be debated. The selection of Belgian chocolates range from white to dark and are heavenly. The Fruit Beer float is out of this world and the liege waffle is tasty and traditional.
Brunch, lunch and dinner are served throughout the day but this is a great place to drop in after a long day at work, have a few beers and enjoy the delicious food. Delivering quality food and drink, Resto is well worth a visit. Interview with chef/owner Christian Pappanicholas below:
111 E. 29th Street
New York, NY 10016
Q: Why did you decide to open a Belgian inspired restaurant?
A: I have a lot of Belgian Friends. Visited Belgium for a bunch of Weddings and loved the food, culture, and beer.
Q: What is one of your favorite items on the menu and pair it with your favorite Belgian beer?
A: Definitely the sausages that Bobby makes. Fresh Sausage is somewhat of a lost art as people focused so much on curing samuli. The fresh sausages are such classic Belgian food and I like to pair them with a sour ale like Rodenbach or T’Gaverhopke
Q: Is everything on the menu Belgian inspired?
A: Truthfully speaking we are really an American Restaurant. We source our food from local farms and we just let the Belgian / European influences come through. Belgian in the Style of New York
Q: I LOVE the chicory salad, the pig ears are a nice, crunchy touch. Why pig ears?
A: WHY NOT PIG EARS? It’s really better that bacon. You get all of the porky goodness but not as much fat.
Q: What do you like/dislike (in general) about dining in New York.
A: I like the fact that there is such great reciprocity between restaurants in NYC. I dislike that there are too many Starbucks.