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Al Firenze

Al Firenze
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Cost
R135 avg main meal
Ambience
Groups, Kids
Food
Halaal Friendly, Italian, Pizzas, Seafood, Vegetarian
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R60 per bottle

Critic's review

Nicola Jenvey

Food
The authentic tastes of Italy take centre stage in this homely restaurant. Food heaven among the starters include the melanzane parmigiana (layers of brinjal, Napoletana sauce and mozzarella cheese baked in a wood-fire oven); sliced wild Boletus mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, garlic and parsley; artichokes baked in the wood-fired oven with parmesan cheese and garlic; and grilled Patagonian calamari tubes and tentacles seasoned with garlic and fresh lemon for a sea freshness and saltiness, leaving the senses calling for another serving.

Pasta dishes cover the gamut and are rich, soul-embracing dishes dripping with cheese, tomato, garlic and fresh herbs or creamy white sauces. The pizzas are thin-based slices of pleasure – the dough is crisp and fresh, the toppings equally fresh, and the combinations delicately balance salty and savoury, with opulent lashings of cheese. The prawns served with the marina pizza deliver on the expectation for fleshy plumpness, while the inclusion of artichokes on several options will throw the undecided into angst.

The Natal pizza – topped with ham, prawns, chilli and banana – pays homage to local cuisine amid the more common Italian homage of Napoletana, Veneziana, tre colore and capone.
Fresh whole fish and seafood, baby chicken, veal and meat dishes round out the dining options.

There are also five children’s dishes on the menu strictly for patrons under 12 years old and dinner can be concluded with tiramisu, cheesecake, Italian kisses or cassata for the holistic Italian experience.

Drinks
The comprehensive wine list covers South Africa’s outstanding wine industry from the smaller boutique producers to the mass market options known to the majority. Mark-ups are on the heavier side, but there is a wide selection of wines by the glass. The restaurant also supports local innovation, retailing the Poison City Brewing craft beers, and there’s a selection of after-dinner drinks for those squeezing the last moments out of an outstanding evening.

Service
From the welcome on arrival to the friendly but not overbearing attention and willingness of the waiters to the final farewell, service is handled with professional slickness.

Ambience
Designed to flow seamlessly between the outdoors and inside, the ambience in Al Firenze suits the tropical heat of Durban. Tables are widely spaced for intimacy even in a large restaurant and there’s an area that can potentially be booked out for a private function.

Best for…
A romantic dining experience on a special occasion that blows the budget or a gathering of family and friends.

(August 2018)

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

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  • Wanda Hennig

    Food
    For many, this is a favourite for special occasions. Plus regulars abound, drawn by the Italian-style café’s upscale-casual neighbourhood vibe, stellar reputation and perpetually good food. It’s unlikely you’ll find a buzzier or livelier eatery anywhere in Durban than lunchtime here on a Sunday.

    Tempting starter options include the luscious and flavourful roasted brinjal slices marinated in olive oil, vinegar, garlic and a touch of chilli; the plump and juicy mussels steamed with garlic, fresh herbs and creamy white wine sauce; the exotic trifolati mushroom dish comprising three different varieties, sliced and sautéed to succulent perfection in olive oil, garlic and parsley; and the juicy and nicely chewy octopus, oh-so-tasty and garlicky baked with olive oil, olives, fresh herbs and peppers. Ask and you might be told the secret of the tenderness of the octopus: they pop a wine cork in the water while simmering it.

    There’s a good selection of salads and soups that will make vegetarian diners happy. In fact, “V” options are sprinkled throughout the menu, including classic Italian pasta dishes and thin-based pizza options, many of which are tweaked with creative flair.

    If you opt for a seafood platter and you’re having a couple of starters first, you might be advised that a platter for one is ample for two people. Expect the linefish of the day, juicy queen prawns, plump langoustines, tender garlicky calamari, and firm and flavourful mussels and clams. All are prepared with olive oil and infused with garlic and herbs. They’re served on a bed of rice and are finger-sucking fabulous.

    Meat-lovers will likely be happy to bite into the tender grilled fillet with creamy balsamic vinegar and Parma ham, or the thinly sliced prime rump topped with fresh rocket and Parmigiano shavings.

    The dessert stand-out is their classic Italian house-made tiramisu, sublimely light and ambrosial with its layerings of mascarpone cheese, biscuit and espresso.

    Drinks
    Wines are well-chosen and include several easy-on-the-pocket South African favourites and also some imported varietals. Corkage is R40.

    Service
    Efficient, no-nonsense and runs like a well-oiled machine when the place is busy. Expect the friendly restaurant manager to willingly make suggestions and answer questions.

    Ambience
    The restaurant is difficult to find if you don’t have clear directions. A few streets up from La Lucia mall, this red-checked tablecloth tratorria is often abuzz with family, friends and conviviality. Tables spill out onto an open verandah.

    And…
    There is a “Bambino” menu for children aged 12 and younger. This offers a choice of three pastas, three pizzas or crumbed chicken strips and chips. Junior portions for junior prices.

    (August 2017)

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

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    • Service
    • Food

User reviews

  • Love the food at All Firenze. It is such a cosy restaurant and the service is good. Food is well priced and great value. The panzerotti pasta is great. Pizzas are awesome. We love going there for special occasions. Also has a chilled vibe, which is exactly what you want. On the whole, I would definitely recommend it.
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  • Cosy setting and good ambience - all sorts of goodness on the menu, I'd advise starting with their aubergine starter! A great place for the family, or a special occasion amongst friends.
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  • I have had three really bad meals at Al Firenze, where the food and service was abysmal, and therefore I hadn’t been there for a year. I was invited last week and had a really good meal, great octopus starter and exceptional mussel cracker (not sure if it’s on the red list). I was happy to be invited for a lunch today and 3 of us ordered Dorado as the catch of the day, with salad. What we received was the catch of last week, completely over cooked, with veg! So we sent it back, only to receive Fish that was even worse, this time we were told it was rock cod, which was inedible. My guess is that they ran out of dorado and produced Rock Cod from the freezer and had to microwave it before grilling it. It was almost impossible to cut through the Fish. To be honest this is what I expect from Tony’s establishment and I am always amazed to find the restaurant full. Alastair (ps we were accompanied by a well renowned retired chef and restauranteur)
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  • The most pathetic service I have ever had at a restaurant, our waiter was hardly ever around and we waited 50 minutes for our meals which did not arrive. When we spoke to the manager (which we had to go up to on our own as our waiter wasn't around to ask for her) she did not give us any better service. We had eventually had enough of their poor service and paid for our drinks and left, having waited for an hour. Definitely not a good experience, would never go back.
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Menu

Set menu - Menu - Updated April 2018

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Dog-friendly
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair

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