My reviews of restaurants thus far have been joyous occasions filled with abundance and great food for which I am very grateful. But I find it difficult to reconcile a free meal with honesty and as such, I am all too painfully aware that my choice of restaurants may just have been tainted by my not wanting to review a restaurant that I know to be mediocre.
In a nutshell – I am constantly left with a nagging question at the back of my mind – Is this a pre-conceived experience that has been tainted by the fact that I may just have chosen restaurants based on a pre-conceived idea of their food.
Today I chose to change my method of assessment. Yes, I may have been selective – AGAIN – it’s Father’s Day and the father in our lives is Italian and only wants to eat Italian food today! But – and this is significant, I paid my own bill and am speaking from my heart and the hearts of those who shared this meal with me.
La Lampara is an Italian Trattoria and Pizzeria in Balgowan owned and run by Pino & Caroline Canderle – a quaint yet gastronomically great stop on the Midlands Meander. Yes, I guess that this could have been a ‘safe’ option for it’s an Italian Restaurant. The litmus of all litmus tests though, has to be a meal out on Father’s Day.
The locale is an hour and 20 minutes drive from Durban and is beautiful but I shall let the pictures speak for themselves! This, once old Dairy has been converted into an Italian Trattoria complete with a magnificent wood fired oven churning out authentic steamy pizza that oozes 50cm strings of melted Mozzarella when you try and remove a piece.
No printed menu’s is a sure sign of fresh food plucked straight from the land - just a chalk board of 6 starters, 6 entrees and 6 main dishes – all interwoven, seasonal and straight from the larder. Riccardo (hubby), Max, Stefano and Sandro were as happy as happy could be.
Let me not go banging on here for I have a review “straight from the Godfather’s mouth” proof that this is authentic Italian food at its very best. A friend of ours has a farm close to La Lampara – and as soon as we got home from our Father’s Day Lunch Riccardo phoned him, and this is how the conversation went.
“B! How are you boet? Where is your farm? … We went to La Lampara … it was excellent. I felt like I was back in Italy. It’s like home from home. Home cooked food! The girls were running the show today as Pino (the owner/ chef/father) was off due to Father’s Day …. Not cheap, but an excellent meal! I had the best spaghetti salsice (spaghetti with Italian sausage) EVER – Jan had kidneys that were out of this world.
"Max had a Kudu Rump with a green peppercorn sauce – TO DIE FOR! Great atmosphere–beautiful food – Segafredo coffee! For sure we are going back! I am going to take my nephew there for a meal …. Are you coming boet? I am going to book for you too!”
Now, I actually can’t remember when last Riccardo got so excited by a restaurant and the food that it serves. I don’t feel the need to expand on this – no amount of adjectives could exalt greater virtues for when an Italian gives the Caesarean thumbs up to and Italian Restaurant, well that says it all!
This little treasure trove of great Italian food – La Lampara is a busy little spot as it’s just around the corner from Michaelhouse School in Balgowan. So it’s essential to book in advance. Make a day of it – that area of the Midlands has so much to see and do and the drive is so picturesque.
Ave Cesare! Ave La Lampara!
La Lampara was reviewed by Janice Tripepi, read her excellent food blog here.