The newest restaurant to open in Cape Town’s City bowl boasts a chef who once worked under Jamie Oliver – plus décor by celebrated local designer Michael Chandler of Chandler house. Nikita Buxton devotes her lunch break to a thorough investigation of Giulio’s Café.
With a menu inspired by rich Italian heritage, Giulio’s Café boasts a range of authentic and vibrant Mediterranean dishes. Homemade pastas feature alongside gourmet paninos on the menu, while those looking for something a little lighter can indulge at the ‘mangia’ harvest table, which offers a range of fresh salads and sandwiches that changes on a daily basis. Choose from three salads for R50 or five salads for R65. If you’re in a hurry and can’t dine in, opt to have your lunch takeaway.
After perusing the menu, we decided on the peri-peri chicken livers (R58) and the Giulio’s burger (R75). The livers are brandy-flambéed and served in a delicious chilli, mushroom and pomodoro (tomato) sauce. The flavour combinations are well balanced, the kick of peri-peri spot on. The dish is served with a much-needed slice of ciabatta to mop up any leftover sauce. The burger has a 100% pure-beef patty, and comes heaped with grilled zucchini ribbons, fresh tomato and a slathering of bright green pesto mayo. It is topped off with a sticky-sweet balsamic onion marmalade and held together by a crisp, sesame-seeded burger bun. The burger patty was ever-so-slightly overcooked, but the sweetness of the onions added a great, juicy flavour. What was missing was the bite of creamy fior di latte mozzarella cheese, though this can be added as an extra topping for R12. The side of skinny Parmesan truffle fries offered an addictive crunch, and the sprinkling of cheese is a delicious touch.
For dessert we tackled the yoghurt panna cotta, which is served with mixed summer berries and a berry coulis (R55). The texture of this dessert can be tricky to perfect but Giulio’s has it on the money, their version boasting an ultra-velvety consistency. The vanilla flavours work harmoniously with the bright tang of the coulis and fresh berries.
Although they are still waiting on their liquor licence, city dwellers will soon be able to pop in for a boozy weekday lunch, choosing from refreshing mimosas, local and Italian wines, and beers and spirits. In the meantime, however, you’ll have to make do with coffee by Deluxe, or freshly squeezed juices beautifully presented in carafes. The red juice, made with orange, carrot, beetroot and ginger, is a great health-kick combo (R30).
Cape Town designer Michael Chandler, of Chandler House, is the creative brain behind the eatery’s interiors. The space is modern Mediterranean with regal Roman pillars, marble-topped tables and tan leather seating. White walls are splashed with tons of natural light, and bright pops of greenery are scattered throughout. The food is beautifully presented, served on either wooden boards or trendy Mervyn Gers ceramics, which adds to the bistro-feel of the restaurant.
The service is friendly and efficient, with the added warmth of Giulio’s charming mama checking on every table.
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