Brought to you by Grana Padano
Of the dreams we have, pretty much all of them are food related and approximately 50% of them involve a steaming bowl of pasta being placed before us. Though us routine-loving humans tend to order our favourite at our usual Italian haunts, these signature pasta dishes around South Africa are worth the diversion. Add them to your to-do list, and make sure to try them and cross them off – or don’t, for an excuse to keep going back for more…
Casa Bella (Midrand, Johannesburg)
The fillet saltimbocca (R215) is a must-try. Made with fried pancetta and portabellini and brown mushrooms, the homemade al dente fettucini is cooked in a creamy white Grana Padano sauce before being topped with 150g fillet medallions. It’s finished with mozzarella and even more Grana Padano.
The Cousins Trattoria (Cape City Bowl)
Named The Cousins, this heavenly bowl of piping hot pasta is iconic in Cape Town. Freshly made tagliolini pasta is coated in a mushroom-and-cream sauce (rich with flavours of white wine, garlic and thyme) before being swirled inside a wheel of Grana Padano cheese. It’s worth every cent of its R120.
Forti Grill and Bar (Menlyn, Pretoria)
Fortunato Mazzone’s signature pasta dish is the Lumaconi. Pasta shells are stuffed with veal, mushrooms, spinach and ricotta before being topped with a bechamel sauce and mozzarella. After a splash of tomato sauce, it goes into the oven to be baked before being served piping hot. Yours for R180.
Gemelli Italian Restaurant (Bryanston, Johannesburg)
Try the spicy Rigatoni Spagnoli (R149), a fusion of Spanish and Italian cooking. The durum wheat rigatoni comes straight from Pianella in Italy, but the tomato ragu is homemade: smoked paprika oil and harissa paste are added to a roast garlic, onion and butter confit with plenty of tomatoes, and cooked down. Prawn tails and chorizo are tossed in, followed closely by perfectly al dente rigatoni. The dish is topped with pancetta and crispy onion crumble. It’s served with crusty ciabatta to mop up any sauce left on your plate.
Locanda at Villa 47 (Cape City Bowl)
The Orecchiette Alla Rustica is made using orecchiette shells, named so after their ear-like shape. Featuring edamame beans, mushrooms, Parma Ham and a flourish of cream and Grana Padano cheese, this creamy pasta is yours for R130.
Lupa Osteria (Durban North)
These geniuses make a deep-fried ravioli. They’re called Italian Nachos – a play on the Mexican favourite – and come stuffed with cheese before being deep fried until deliciously golden brown. A portion of six comes with an arrabbiata sauce for R65.
Nonna Lina (Gardens, Cape Town)
The competition is fierce on Nonna Lina’s menu, especially in the pasta section. But you won’t regret opting for the Teneri (R115). With flaky salmon, fresh dill and a subtly flavoured vodka-and-mascarpone sauce, it’s an exquisite way to spoil yourself. Pro tip: Order it with the butternut-and-sage ravioli. Despite the extra R27, you won’t regret it.
Brought to you by Grana Padano
Grana Padano is a hard, richly flavoured cheese from Northern Italy. It is named for its beautifully grainy texture (la grana), and its origin: Padano or from the Po River Valley. It’s believed to be one of the world’s first hard cheeses, created nearly 900 years ago. Grana Padano is ripened for at least nine months, and fire-branded with the Grana Padano trademark.