Café del Sol Botanico is another gem of a restaurant in the family, where Nonna’s food is always a winner, says Eat Out critic Jodi-Ann Pearton.
Best for: A social drink, celebration, romantic dinner or casual lunch
Cost: Average main course is R130
Serves: Italian, contemporary cuisine
Star rating: Food 5, service 3, ambience 5
Café del Sol Classico in Olivedale is where the brand first sunk its roots into the heart of Johannesburg diners. The food at Café del Sol Botanico is a continuation of that promise, never ceasing to tantalise the palate.
The traditional Italian cuisine, great ingredients and gorgeous environment all result in beaming smiles from every patron in the house. The menu is inspired by classical Italian roots, making use of only the freshest ingredients and cooking from first principles.
Daily specials include tender pasta pockets of ravioli stuffed with roasted butternut and served with crispy sage butter, or filled with freshly picked spinach and smooth ricotta with a hint of nutmeg, napped in a perfectly balanced Napolitano sauce and a dash of cream; as well as hand-rolled gnocchi with a classical selection of sauces.
The à la carte menu is extensive: think crispy squid heads with aioli, a lunch-time selection of exciting salads, hand-made pastas, traditional Italian meat dishes, and the house speciality of porcini roasted chicken. The perfectly prepared risottos are testimony to the exceptional skills of the kitchen. The chef recommends the seafood risotto, but all are fantastic.
A great new addition to the menu here is the pizza section, offering a mouthwatering selection of creative, thin-based, superb pizzas which are a must try. They add a wonderful dynamic to the already outstanding menu. Try the pizza Parma, which is piled high with peppery, crisp rocket and thin slices of Parma ham, and drizzled with truffle oil. (Treat yourself by adding extra avocado to round it off.)
All pastries, cakes and desserts are made from scratch and with a lot of skill. For guests who would like to simply pop by for a sweet treat, the coffee is sublime and definitely a worthwhile way to taste the offerings.
The wine list is fabulous, with a variety of excellent local and international flagship bottles on offer. There is something for every palate and price point. Some of the staff are not very educated about the wine list, but be bold and creative in your selection and you shouldn’t go wrong. There are also spirits, beers and cocktails.
The service is a little bit of a mixed bag. Some of the waitrons are superb, attending to every detail with knowledge of the menu and the environment. Others end up being a bit of a hindrance. The hostesses are pleasant and helpful, and booking is an easy and fuss-free process.
Café del Sol Botanico creates a wonderful ambience for guests to gather – whether it be for a social drink, celebration, romantic dinner or casual luncheon. It’s all spot on: beautiful views, natural décor, outdoor-indoor set-up, easy access to the bar, and lovely, easy-going energy. The décor is themed around nature, but with a very playful twist. The environment lends itself well to a casual lunch energy and then uplifts nicely for a dress-up dinner. Clever.
There’s a wonderful bar next door called Landmark that’s great for a pre- or post-meal drink.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
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