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The other face of Italian cuisine TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: SPIGA D’ORO
In most places around the world you can find an Italian restaurant, but none quite like the exquisite Italian slow food kitchen at Spiga d’Oro in the town of Boortmeerbeek, just outside Mechelen. Here, chef Francesco Di Taranto knows the origin of every ingredient he uses and every wine he serves. Spiga d’Oro was founded in 1990 by Di Taranto. “The restaurant business was always in our family’s blood. My parents opened the very first Italian restaurant in Mechelen in 1967, where I used to work as a maître d’ and I trained as sommelier. In 1990 we opened Spiga d’Oro,” he reminisces. “In the beginning I was just managing the restaurant. But I wasn’t happy with the chefs we had. So I let them go and started cooking myself. I learnt on the job, and from the Italian chefs I interned with. I ‘stumbled’ my way into the kitchen, so to speak.”
Italian slow food Di Taranto wanted to do things differently. “Almost all Italian restaurants serve pizza or lasagne. But I felt there were a lot more beautiful dishes we should offer: traditionally cooked but with a twist, made with products from the region the dish originates,” he explains. “I went to Italy to study the dishes, and went to the farmers to see where the products came from. We import the ingredients directly from them.” Di Taranto checks all the incoming products himself, from the spices to the meat. “That way I know our meals are of the highest quality.” That quality was awarded by Gault & Millau in 2016, who named Spiga d’Oro as one of the top 100 restaurants in Belgium.
With good food comes good wine Since Spiga d’Oro is all about slow food and enjoying the rich Italian life, wine is a big part of the dining experience. “My son is a sommelier and used to take care of wines here at the restaurant. He was vot-
ed Best Sommelier of Belgium in 2017 and now works at the restaurant of Michelinstar chef Sergio Herman in Antwerp. My wife is now in charge of the wine, with the help of my daughter, who is also studying to become a sommelier,” says Di Taranto with pride. “We know all of the winemakers who provide our wine personally. We organise wine tasting courses throughout the year and at the end of the course, we visit the vineyards in Italy. All of the wines are available via our webshop.”
An Italian night out Dining at Spiga d’Oro is not just about going for a meal. It is an Italian night out, with seasonal and regional authentic dishes, the best wines that go along with them and an inspiring chef that prepares it all for you. “We want you to experience the other face of Italian cuisine.” Web: www.spigadoro.be
Issue 49 | January 2018 | 17
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.