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The unmissable Tuscan-themed pop-up, Lapo’s Kitchen – Reviewed

Chef Lapo Magni won Italian cooking show La Terra dei Cuochi. Now he’s in Cape Town, hosting a Tuscan long table experience from his Observatory home called Lapo’s Kitchen. Originally from Florence, his passion for food and cooking is influenced by his mother, chef Elena Maettei, who runs cooking classes in Italy. The flavours of Tuscany are played out in a five-course menu, adapted regularly to celebrate locally sourced ingredients. Lapo will keep you entertained through the night with his passion and strong ethos of sustainable food. Eat Out critic Rupesh Kassen sits down to one of Lapo’s feasts.

Crispy fried zucchini flowers filled with ricotta and a smear of red pepper purée at Lapo’s Kitchen. Photo by Michelle Hodgkinson.

Fast facts

Contact details: 082 332 1366
Opening times: Reservations only
Costs: Five courses for around R500 (Prices may vary depending on the size of the table and private booking)
Best for: A Tuscan-inspired feast
Parking: Located in a quiet street in Observatory, street parking available.
Star ratings out of 5: Food 5, service 5, ambience 5

Spaghetti at Lapo’s Kitchen. Photo by Michelle Hodgkinson.

Food

Our flavour journey kicks off with a chargrilled asparagus-and-pecorino cream. Visually unassuming but packed with a salty and velvety hit of the infused cream and smoky notes from the charred asparagus, this dish is sheer genius.

A standout dish of organic spaghetti arrives next in a neat twirled heap, coated in a homemade pesto. But this is no ordinary pesto. Lapo shares that his secret ingredients are green beans and potatoes, which add a surprising creamy note. I would have been satisfied with a huge bowl of this incredible pasta. We even try convincing him to sell us a jar of the pesto, to no avail.

Lapo is passionate about organic and ethically sourced produce. Photo by Michelle Hodgkinson.

The lighter course of crispy fried zucchini flowers filled with ricotta and a smear of red pepper purée is the perfect interlude to the penultimate course. A masterful combination of slow-roasted Karoo lamb basted in honey, anchovy and mustard arrives with sheer generosity and delivers umami notes with each bite. Don’t be afraid of the anchovy – this traditional addition is what makes this dish superb.

A creamier and fluffier interpretation of custard is served with seasonal berries, and offers a balance of sweetness and acidity that a good dessert needs.

Custard with seasonal berries. Photo by Michelle Hodgkinson.

While Lapo is all about mashing up traditional Tuscan and modern flavours, you can expect a truly Italian dinner. This immersive experience is probably one of Cape Town’s best-kept foodie secrets.

Drinks

BYOB. When booking for an experience at Lapo’s Kitchen, Lapo will guide you on wine pairing options for the menu.

Lapo won an Italian cooking show before opening up Lapo’s Kitchen in South Africa. Photo by Michelle Hodgkinson.

Service

Cooking is in Lapo’s blood, and this is what makes the intimate dinners he hosts at his home so great. He is assisted by a sous chef, but Lapo’s bubbly personality and passion flows into each dish that’s prepared and personally served.

Ambience

Sitting at a long table in the chef’s dining room, which is open to the kitchen, we have the opportunity to mingle with fellow foodies and be entertained by the charming chef. It’s a cosy and comfortable space with a salivating view of the dishes being prepared; a little like being over at a good friend’s for dinner. Lapo will certainly make you feel like that by the time you leave.

Courgette flowers ready for frying. Photo by Michelle Hodgkinson.

And…

Lapo occasionally hosts lunches at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market, offers cooking classes and caters for private functions. Contact him for enquiries.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.

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