There’s something timeless about Italian food. A creamy risotto can carry you through heartache, a slice of Tiramisu can heighten your happiness, a bowl of spaghetti Bolognaise on a cold day is unlikely to disappoint you and something about lasagna says family time. Come sun or rain, I don’t see how you can go wrong in the company of friendly faces and within arm’s reach of a yummy Italian meal.
If you feel the same way then here’s a list of some of the best Italian restaurants in and around Johannesburg.
Gemelli all about distinguished, wholesome Italian food that the entire family can enjoy. And, the undying foot traffic reflects just that. It’s always a buzz, a full house, a fun time and a great pick for a group get together on a Friday night which you can accredit to the fact that they are celebrated for their pasta and risotto dishes as well as the ever-changing chef’s specials.
The Italian family-owned restaurant is a constant reminder that home isn’t a place but a feeling. There is a lot to be said about the unpretentiousness of the restaurant and how the magic spills out in a synthesis of flavours in the food, the friendly service and the wine selection. Here I think that Cascia di Agnello Arrosto (roast leg of lamb) might just be the star of the show, with the Parmigiana coming in at a close second and the classic Italian Ricotta Cheese Cake giving the two a run for their money while putting a smile on your face.
Casalinga has made a name for itself as one of Gauteng’s leading restaurants and at some point was dubbed ‘Most Romantic Restaurant’. The amiable Italian countryside restaurant prides itself in its simplicity, creating an intimate setting and deliciously prepared fresh produce from their very own organic veggie farm which is free of additives and preservatives. It’s in Muldersdrift and away from the city where you have the space to escape into The Piazza, the Main Dining, the Small Dining, The Terrace, Casavino, The Lounge or Weddings area while you let go of your worries and dive into their orgasmic food variety that’s sure to have something for every kind of person.
Hidden in the vibey 44 Stanley precinct you’re at liberty to spoil your belly under the olive trees around the fountain or in The Room with their flawless Italian Insalata, the Penne Bolognese or the Fegatini Chicken Livers and a glass of wine. They’re also gained popularity among city dwellers as a venue for weddings, private and corporate functions with the ability to transform The Room decorated with the long white washed tables as the centre piece, into a picturesque meeting ground. Their menu is home to a collection of gourmet pizzas, home-made pasta and some of the best risottos in the city.
Dulce Café occupies a niche of its own in the market. They’ve tactfully placed themselves between a restaurant and a coffee shop, classifying themselves as a global café or espresso bar in the true Italian tradition by sharing their love through food, a bar that resembles a treasure trove, well-brewed coffee and an assortment of ice-cream flavours. Their inspiration is drawn from an international and local cousine, trade shows, the internet and trade magazines.
Stelle Restaurant is the custodian for fine Italian cuisine. Their menu is an appetizing mesh of genuine, uncomplicated, and easy to identify flavours as well as textures, cooked with passion and enthusiasm. The bulk of their ingredients are of Italian origin. Gnocchis, risottos and pasta are their signature dishes and although they take a little while to prepare, one must remember that good things come to those who wait. Each dish is a work of art in and of itself.
The lovely eatery will seduce you to go inside with the smell of java and the enchanting interior brought to life with copper accents, a bookshop that I almost got lost in, countryside-style wooden tables and bare-brick counters which make you feel like you’ve stepped into a whole new world filled with potential. And, the promise of goodness doesn’t stop with the interior; their menu boasts a variety of breakfast, brunch and dinner treats birthed from recipes that have been in owner Fabio Razzino’s family for years. Do yourself a favour and try the Linguini Pollo, Calamari Siciliana and the fettuccine Salsiccia – you’ll be all the better because of it.
Pronto Italian Restaurant
If it’s a hideout you’re on the hunt for then you’ve hit the jack pot with this one. The award-winning restaurant’s engine in fueled by a passion for food, wine and love. The back-bone of the restaurant is a build of the finest and freshest local and imported ingredients. They maybe have matchless Focaccia and Penne Sassicaia which will make you understand why many regulars have called it a home away from home as well as the prawn Linguine Rosa which will leave craving another serving.
Septimo Italian Restaurant
The locally sourced farm-to-table eatery is the fusion of a restaurant, a bakery, a deli and a market all of which offer you a chance to indulge in an Italian experience. Most of what goes into your tummy is made in-house from the pasta to the pasta sources, as well as the freshly baked bread which is made at the dawn of each day. They’re so sure of their foods goodness that you’re welcome to make your way to the in-house market that sells their homemade pastas, breads, sauces, locally sourced fruits and veggies in addition to the rich variety of cheeses, meat cuts, imported deli items including dry goods, olives, olive oil and plenty other cooking essentials that’ll make every meal an experience even in the comfort of your home.
Sale Pepe Da Giovanni
The intimate eatery is known for its homey dishes prepared the old-fashioned Italian traditional way. All though their wine selection isn’t vast they make up for it up with their mouthwatering meals which include the linguine al pesto, risotto au frutti and the linguine vongole. Owners Giovanni Daleca and Massimo Gianni are also very involved with what’s happen and come around to check that all is well which is a really nice touch
A restaurant or coffee shop with a cute garden view can turn a bad day around or be the cherry on top a wonderful weekend. Either way, we hope you love them as much as we do.