Editors' pick

Et Voila!

Belgian, French
$$$$ ($15-$24)
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Editorial Review

Some of my most memorable Belgian meals — trips to Brussels included — have originated from the kitchen of Claudio Pirollo, whose slip of a dining room in the Palisades routinely packs in neighbors and statesmen alike. (Bon appetit, John Kerry.) Fall and winter find me hankering for beef stew. It’s a dish the chef’s Italian mother learned to make as a maid for a Belgian family and a recipe her son flavors with flat-iron steak and dark beer — good to the last drop. A pot of steamed Blue Bay mussels alongside twice-fried potatoes never gets old, in part because the bivalves are available in five flavors. Lots of places do tuna tartare. Et Voila! forgoes the obvious with bass tartare, elegant with crisp sesame tuiles and dots of tomato-pink mayonnaise on the plate. Order duck breast and you get house-made duck sausage, too, arranged over a fan of asparagus and a classic orange sauce. I could easily order more Belgian frites for dessert, but familiarity has taught me to splurge on the warm apricot-pistachio tart or a proper crepes Suzette. Depending on how much personal space you need, the narrow restaurant comes across as cozy or claustrophobic. If you’re a group, reserve table No. 1, set in the back but with high stools that allow as many as a dozen of you to still see the scene.

2013 Fall Dining Guide

2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013

Dinner at this snug Belgian restaurant in the Palisades always makes me wish I lived closer. Every neighborhood deserves an Et Voila!, a source of steamed mussels and beer-based beef stew that is priced for regular workdays but could just as easily host a celebration.

This is the rare restaurant where, recently at least, appetizers take a back seat to main courses. (Warm pea soup in summer? Tuna tartare still?) That said, I love the all-white, crisp and sharp salad of chopped endive, diced apple and blue cheese. Lobster risotto is beautiful and luscious; crisp-skinned branzino comes with fresh ricotta gnocchi; and duck confit with pureed potatoes puts me in a Paris state of mind.

So do the desserts, which include very good profiteroles and a cloud of meringue on a pool of vanilla custard -- an ile flottante that floats my boat.