“Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta” – Federico Fellini
The Joburg restaurant scene is thriving and Joburgers are spoilt for choice when it comes to good quality, authentic, artisanal and mouth-watering eats and treats. We are, quite simply, spoilt for choice.
And when it comes to soulful, honest and delicious food, who does it better than the Italians? Who doesn’t adore hot cheesy pizza, beautifully folded ravioli o or spaghetti messily twisted around a fork? Sun-warmed ingredients like tomatoes and herbs. And don’t forget the dreamy creaminess of a well-made Tiramisu.
It is near impossible for me to choose a favourite Italian restaurant. But I have narrowed it down to three worth trying – each in its own class and distinction:
1. Café Del Sol – for a night of pure indulgence (Olivedale)
This new age Italian eatery exudes warmth, character and soulfulness. Run by a family that passionately delivers mouth-watering, artful dishes with so much flavour, pizazz and “wowness” that you cannot help but savour each bite of food.
The menu caters for a wide range of tastes. But after hearing the host’s recommendations while dining there a week ago, I settled on the Ravioli of the day to start. Café Del Sol only prepares a limited number of Ravioli each day. And each day the fillings change. On this particular Friday we were treated to Ravioli filled with creamy butternut, crushed Amaretti biscuits and a smooth Amaretto sauce.
For mains I opted for the stuffed Calamari, which also comes highly recommended, and did not disappoint. In a word, it was delectable. My partner had the seafood risotto, and coming from a not easily impressed Italian “foodsnob” he gave it rave reviews.
To end our night of culinary delights we chose the Chocolate Torte (which is made the same way as chocolate truffles on a nutty crust) and the Affogato (which is chocolate swirl vanilla gelato and roasted flaked almonds drenched with warm espresso and a twist of orange).
Although alittle on the pricey side – if you are looking for a romantic night out, a good place to celebrate a special occasion, or just a night out to treat yourself – Café Del Sol comes highly, highly (highly) recommended.
2. Remo’s Maximilliano – fun, flirty, fabulous (Waterfall Corner)
I have been hearing good things about Remo’s Maximilliano – very good things. And after paying them a visit a few weeks ago for an early dinner, I have to agree – this has become one of my favourites.
As you walk into Remo’s you are immediately welcomed by friendly and efficient staff. A black and white retro theme surrounds you with huge posters of Old Italian cars, family and horses covering the walls. You immediately start to feel relaxed and even a little suave (but in a 1950’s Sofia Loren kind of way). And their funky, feel good playlist creates a bustling, celebratory atmosphere.
The relaxed style of the menu surprised me and as I went down the list my mouth started watering as I bounced back and forth on the many delectable and delightful sounding dishes. Eventually I settled on the calamari and prawn pasta which was amazing – the calamari and prawns tender, and the homemade pasta cooked perfectly. The dessert menu is just as inviting with the Crème Brulee and Chocolate Brownie been firm favourites (although I was too full to give anything a try). All in all I had a great night. I love the vibe of Remo’s and the food really is worth a try. If you are looking for a fun night out with friends, this vibey Italian treat is worth the visit.
3. Osteria Rossa – A Sure Thing (Bedforview)
Rossa has to be one of my favourite restaurants in Joburg. I love the relaxed atmosphere and the rustic Italian food. A night at Rossa is always a sure thing. And on a warm summers evening, sipping on chilled wine and digging in to one of their exceptional pizzas, the stresses of the week easily melt away.
One thing Rossa is not known for is good service. However, the lack of efficient service is remedied by their scrumptious food. Their selection of antipasti is alluring, their pizzas are first class, and their Tagliata is, without doubt, the best I’ve ever had. They have taken an Italian classic and mastered it and even writing about it makes my mouth water. It is highly recommended. Their desserts are not mind blowing – but still enjoyable and worth it if you have any room left over after your meal.
If you are looking for a relaxed place to unwind after a long week, where you will experience good food made very very well, then give Rossa a try. I promise it will be worth it.
So there you have it – my three recommendations. If you’re stuck with what to do this weekend, and are in the mood for some tastiness… then give one of the three a try (although please note that it would be by sheer luck that you get a table at Café Del Sol without a prior booking – they book up weeks in advance). Hope you find a little Dolce Vita…