After food, atmosphere is probably the most definitive aspect of a dining experience. Good ambience is integral to a memorable meal, and can make a simple dish seem that much better. While Johannesburg suburbs like Parkhurst and Melville succeed in creating a buzzing atmosphere, Pretoria has always seemed a bit stuck, with the problem of many restaurants being in malls or lifestyle centres. This is all about to change with the launch of The Village in Hazelwood, Pretoria.
Situated on 16th Street, The Village has sprung up to incorporate some existing restaurants and a slew of new venues. The inspiration is the leafy-sidewalk suburban dining associated with Stellenbosch and Franschhoek – a space you can visit during your lunch break or in the evening to escape the city madness.
The man behind the development is Peter Michaletos, whose family has always been involved in the country’s food fabric: his grandfather invented the automatic potato-peeling machine in the 70s, and his family has been manufacturing and supplying restaurant equipment for over a decade.
Peter has since moved away from the family business, and now runs a company that buys distressed shopping centres and turns them into places like The Village. This location forms a bit of a hub between various suburbs in Pretoria and has been begging for something like this for a long time.
The team has put in a great deal of effort into hand-selecting the tenants – excellence and a passion for food are crucial. Alfie’s, a restaurant run by an Italian family with an endorsement from the Italian Embassy, has opened a pizzeria offshoot and deli, joining Salt Eatery and Boston Bistro, which was named Best Bistro in Gauteng in Eat Out’s inaugural Best Everyday Eateries last year.
It’s been about two weeks since the soft launch of The Village – not all restaurants are open yet and some of the venues are finding their feet – but an official launch can be expected in the next month or two. Below you can find a list of all the purveyors of gastronomic goodness, with three more coming very soon. Get yourself there and take a walk around – it’s quite special.