Restaurant longevity is a strange little beast, for the formula for success differs from city to city; in Cape Town it’s about the view, the vibe, the cocktails, the ability to keep with the times, stay fresh and ahead of the rest. In Joburg there are very few views, little times for cocktails or the want for change, because here every second counts and time is money. Here the formula, as far as I’m concerned, is all about good service and consistency. People look for places that can guarantee they will be served good food with a smile, and that these two factors will not falter.
I visited Pomodoro in Morningside and I have to say they have this formula down to a T. Whilst it is situated in the bustling Morningside Shopping Centre, the tasteful décor and inside/outside seating options provide patrons with variety of ambiance and setting.
The waiters are all on point; they’re warm, friendly, informed and you never feel like they’re faking their smiles - something that you don’t find often.
The menu is an extensive one; pizzas, pastas, salads, fish and meat dishes galore, but when you look over at the size of the kitchen and the number of staff employed, you’ll be confident they can handle the variety. At its heart, it’s a good old-fashioned Italian restaurant with a bit of a twist here and there.
We opted for the Porcini mushroom risotto and the Rigatoni lamb pasta to start and the Kingklip with sundried tomato pesto and the pork belly from the specials menu for mains. The Rigatoni was just delightful; rich, savoury, the perfect sauce to pasta ratio, no added sugar in the sauce – it was a quintessential, Italian dish (not sure he has Grandma’s permission to use the recipe :). This is a characteristic that flows through all of the food: it sings of home-cooking, but it’s just a little more styled.
The Porcini mushroom risotto was great, a little too ‘al dente’ for my liking, but the silkiness of the risotto, the texture of the sauce and the way in which the flavour of the mushrooms really shone through made this delicate dish a definite win.
The mains were just out of this world. It’s hard to find well-prepared fish in Joburg (for very obvious reasons), but the Kingklip was as fresh as you can get, cooked to perfection and paired with a sundried tomato pesto, herb oil and crisp vegetables - it was delectable. The pork belly was sheer extravagance; succulent and melt in your mouth pork belly with crisp crackling on a bed of mashed potatoes with a thick and luscious, sweet gravy; it just made you want to lick the plate.
To drink we opted for wine by the glass as the selection is great; you’ve got an option for every cultivar on the menu and, if Stefano (the owner) is there, he’ll happily suggest pairings for you. They are all around R40-60 for a 250ml carafe and the wines themselves are interesting and different (You won’t find any Leopards, Horses or other such animals on the list).
The dessert selection is both Italian and French in nature: Tiramisu, affogato, panna cotta, crepes suzette, chocolate fondant...we went with the affogatto (I asked to have a shot of Grappa with mine) and the Lemon Tart. The lemon tart was rich and tangy and encased in a beautiful home-made pastry that was short and sweet; definitely one for those with a very sweet tooth. The affogato was exactly as it should be; good quality ice cream and real Italian espresso, with the cheeky addition of a dash of Grappa, it almost had me singing “Ave Maria”…or maybe that was the two glasses of wine…
Pomodoro is the perfect place for lunch or dinner, for families, business meetings or just a quick catch-up with a friend. It’s a restaurant that’s not trying to be anything more than what it is: good. I’ll be back with the whole family very soon.
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- Kate Liquorish