Sunday, 22 February 2015

Pizzeria Istanbul (rue Malibran)

I never said this blog was going to be about Belgian cuisine only, or even about Brussels' most celebrated establishments. Sometimes you have to take good food where you can find it, especially when part of a large group exploring the nightlife (well, Café Belga) round the place Flagey on a rainy evening, and not having much luck finding dinner. Luckily, one timely recollection and a short walk down a side street later, we were sitting in the utilitarian surroundings of the Pizzeria Istanbul.

So this wasn't a planned review, but I was very happy when events took us here as I'd been wanting to try Turkish 'pizza' - or rather pide, a boat-shaped flatbread with a meat, cheese or vegetable topping - for a while. Alongside the pideler (thanks to my friend A for confirming that this is the plural), there are actual pizzas, and baklava for anyone desperate for a dessert. One of our number had a regular pizza, which was heavily cheesy and surprisingly nice in a slightly Pizza Hut-ish sort of way. 
Everyone else, though, went for a pide, most of which were priced between 6.50 and 9 euros and topped with various combinations of minced lamb, spicy, garlic-y sucuk sausage, eggs, cheese and vegetables. I was a little afraid they might be dry or over-salty, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The cheese and egg combination was especially successful, as was the egg and sucuk one - I do like my eggs and this was a generous serving of them on top of chewy, moreish dough, with the sausage as a boldly flavoured but grease-free accompaniment (if desired you could probably re-brand this as a 'breakfast pizza' for the Anglophone market). The minced lamb topping also proved to be tasty, although I would have expected a bit more seasoning. The only version that impressed me less was the one with chicken and vegetables, as the meat came in unappetisingly small and rather spongey cubes and there was nothing to anchor the vegetables in the dough.
This was clearly not haute cuisine, although despite its look the Istanbul is definitely more of a restaurant than a takeaway shop (and it had the most spotless toilets I've seen in a while, albeit with a cold tap-only sink of the kind that as a Briton I'm just starting to get used to: there's some enlightenment here). Nevertheless, it was tasty, filling, and much better than standing in the damp eating chips - it was also confirmed as up to authentic Turkish standards by someone with a lot more experience of food in Istanbul than me. On a similar occasion I'd be happy to go back.

Pizzeria Istanbul
rue Malibran 17
1050 Brussels


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