Diane de Beer
Chef Luigi Marchini’s dream for a place that felt like his grandmother’s home – both a shop filled with art and doodads as well as a restaurant – will live on following his unexpected death in 2015. His partner, with the help of a new support team and friends, is keeping everything, including the chefs trained by Luigi, exactly the same. Choose one of his zivas (Yemeni layered bread with fillings) with names of local painters like Carl Buchner, Irma Stern and Maggie Loubser. These come with extraordinary fillings like roast lamb with Dijonnaise mayo, rocket and caramelised onion. It's still all about the food here: from the rich oxtail to the veal picatta with mushroom, onion, wine and cream sauce. It’s comfort food deluxe with the most decadent home-baked cakes, cupcakes and cheesecake.
They have a few basic wines favouring Durbanville Hills and Hill and Dale as well as an Italian selection from Villa Teresa (organic) and Prosecco. They also offer a wide variety of soft drinks from cordials to fruit juices.
Riaan Luiters is fully in charge of the friendliest bunch of waiter with a hands-on manager.
It’s like walking into an art shop with something for everyone and works like a charm when sitting at one of the inside tables – like visiting a close friend’s home. Many people know one another but newcomers are always welcome in this buzzy corner. With an outside deck in front of the shop, it’s as much fun inside or out. It’s classy, comfortable and convenient.
Check their deli items and take some of the marinated brinjal home. It adds spice to anything from a sandwich to a roast.
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Café Bree’s food is generally rooted in classic Italian cuisine, which means that it offers comfort food that will make even the crabbiest customer feel happy and relaxed. They do however also offer other items for breakfast or something light. Breakfast options include Bree’s poached eggs with salmon on rye or Low GI bread, rocket, mustard vinaigrette, and fresh dill, or what they call their Gourmet summer omelette, also with salmon and cream cheese, rocket, cocktail tomatoes and capers. True to the chef’s Italian roots, the oven-baked Lumaconi, filled with minced meat, spinach and béchamel sauce, or traditional lasagne, are superb versions of these classics. Veal Picatta, served with fettucine alla crema (mixed with cream and parmesan) are finger licking good, and the oxtail is made with a classic sofrito of carrots, onions and celery in a tomato-based sauce, making it deliciously rich but not heavy. The menu even lists a couple of pizzas; the Bree pizza comes topped with mozzarella, tomato, ham, bacon, salami, peppers, garlic, chilli and origanum. Their Zivas (handmade layered dough wraps from Yemen) are hugely popular, with various fillings celebrating famous South African artists: the Irma Stern, Maggie Loubser, Walter Battis, Frans Claerhout and the Carl Buchner, the latter made with roasted lamb, Dijon mayo, rocket and caramelized onion.
Wines by the glass include Villa Jeresa, an organic Italian Pinot Grigio, and for those who might like something a little less assertive, the Theuniskraal Moscato Rosé. Prosecco can be ordered in a 750 ml or 200ml bottle, and what can be better to celebrate with than Italian bubbly? Wines are well priced, with the Earthbound organic Chenin Blanc selling at R90, and the Earthbound Pinot Noir at R110. Non-alcoholic drinks include Italian ice tea in peach or lemon, those delightful little Italian fruit juices in pear, peach or apple, Aranciata in both the bitter red and Dolce orange variations, and a citrus & herb drink called Chinotto.
The owners are always on hand, assisted by a team of young helpers, all ready to serve, clear, share, suggest, hug, chat and generally make a visit here something special, as evidenced by the throngs of regulars of all ages obviously loving the vibe.
Café Bree is tucked in between some other smaller restaurants in what is quite a busy little strip, but benefits greatly from the deck outside which makes for a lovely way to experience Pretoria’s fantastic climate. The casual observer may not immediately know if Café Bree is an antique shop, art gallery, florist or bakery, because it ticks all these boxes to some extent. The owners are ardent art collectors, and are always keen to tell more about a piece on the walls. Old fashioned showcases and cabinets line the walls, filled with crockery, tea sets, plates and other period ceramics. The large covered deck is much simpler, but the interior draws the crowds with its eclectic mix of dining-room sets, printed Sanderson-type fabric tablecloths, silver cruet sets, tea/coffee pots, and damask napkins with fabric ribbons, bunches and bunches of fresh roses, silk roses, anemones and hydrangeas. Pressed glass jugs filled with water and strawberries, some bottled jams and pickles and the odd box of Ouhuis Rooibos Tea are on sale, all contributing to the feeling of visiting a slightly over-the-top granny or aunt for afternoon tea.
Sumptuous cakes are not only part of the look, but are tasty as well. These may include almond meringue custard cake; peanut butter tart with Lindt chocolate and roasted salted almonds; carrot cupcakes or the best ever peanut butter brittle cake. They serve an excellent fig cake, bake their own biscotti and polenta biscuits, make a decadent chocolate torte with amaretti biscuits, and on odd occasions (or pre-order) great breads such as health bread or bread with pistachios and honey. They make wedding cakes on order and in all likelihood one might bump into a satisfied customer returning empty dishes, as they will happily prepare a whole meal to pick up and warm at home.
Diane De Beer
If what you need is comfort, this is the place to be. The food is hearty and generous and so are the people. It’s like enjoying the best-cooked meal in a place that feels like home, but is in fact an eclectic shop packed with antiques and art which you can peruse while having anything from the prettiest cupcake to an oxtail that will warm your heart. From gourmet omelettes (with the likes of salmon, cream cheese, rocket and capers; or crispy bacon, cream cheese, rocket and rosa tomatoes) to the outrageous marshmallow and cherry cheesecake to die for (and perhaps of!), it’s laidback and full of goodness – both the food and the ambience. Their menu runs the Italian spectrum, but one of the true standouts is their richly comforting oxtail, served with fettuccine alla crema.
There’s a fair amount to choose from with organic red and white as well as more standard choices. From Italy you can try the Villa Teresa, or opt for the local organic Earthbound label.
Partner Riaan Luiters is in command and keeps customers smiling.
It’s a space packed with beautiful objects that the chef has collected; this decorating approach keeps every visit interesting. The name of the café refers to Bree (the redhead from Desperate Housewives), playing nicely into their dramatic sensibility, which surfaces in the eclectic nature of the interiors. The latter is constantly changing, because chef Luigi collects anything from paintings to tea sets.
They’re now open at night too, so linger for a long, leisurely meal or book them when you need caterers.
Diane de BeerThis unique spot delivers in all kinds of ways, from the food to the fussing over customers. New or a regular, you will get a lot of attention. They’ve created a unique blend of classic Italian comfort food together with an eclectic mix of antiques and art. It’s like visiting home from home, with both the ambience and the flavours right out there. Stand-out dishes: oxtail, summer salad, sole, veal piccata or different zivas (Yemen bread with fillings). They also make a fantastic brinjal pickle to take away. (Eat Out magazine 2014)
Fantastic! As always.
Excellent experience! Great food, delicious cakes, and awesome cupcakes! Wonderful atmosphere and staff!
Great service and great food. Whenever I need a nice relaxing cup of coffee or lunch with a bit of a difference, this is the place I go to. Worth the trip any day.
Luigi adds new meaning to what potentially could be a very boring omelette!
The ambience, takes the sting out of Pretoria for a Cape Townian...divine!
Great atmosphere, best service in town. The oxtail is defnitely best in town. Thanks Riaan you are the best host.
Beautiful and absolutely delicious zivas and cupcakes! Loved the melanzane on the plates, every dish needs a little purple egg plant in life! Lovely atmosphere on any given day with loved ones. Thanks for the great service and homey feeling with divine fresh food. Will definitely be back for another round of Bree.
Loving the beautiful tasting zivas with mouth watering melanzane and topped off with divine freshly baked red velvet and carrot cake cupcakes. Delightful and most relaxing atmosphere for a piblic holiday breakfast with one's loved ones. And most enjoyable owner and waiters! Thank you!
This restaurant puts new meaning to the word "personal". From the service to the food, this is indeed outstanding. Riaan and Luigi have managed to merge the concepts of service and cafe cuisine and taken them to a new level. Do yourself a favour and visit this little paradise hidden in Groenkloof. Ps. Their cakes are delicious, with the best Red Velvet cupcakes anywhere!
A very different experience to the normal coffee shop and restaurant, yet in the difference lies the awesome experience. Relaxing atmosphere, personal attention from Riaan, and simply unbeatable cuisine from Luigi while you admire the artworks all around you. You will make them your favourite meeting and function place after a visit; take my word for it.
Cafe Bree has become my second office. Service is great and food extremely yummy, just check my waist line for confirmation. Must admit I have yet to find something on the menu I do not enjoy. Well done Riaan and staff. Special mention, Danie, the waiter, excellent service.
If you are looking for food to tantalise your taste buds this is the place to eat. 'Abs fabs!' Then I can't even mention the cupcakes! As a cupcake addict I can only leave this statement *ambrosia*!
The best atmosphere in town. Personalised service even from the owner. Food is absoulutely exceptional and value for money. It's definitely my favourite place to stop and take a breather when I am in PTA for business. Well done Cafe Bree.
What a haven to escape to! Not only is the service friendly, efficient and warm, but the ambience so comforting. Riaan is such a charming host and likes to spoil customers. The food is delicious and the helpings generous. On top of it all, there is always something you are tempted to buy - from vintage teacups to imported Italian delicacies. Make this your favourite place to meet friends. Or go solo.
Thank you to all the friendly faces at Cafe Bree.
Lunch with the girls on 2 February was absolutely scrumptious! The cakes are to die for, and the service was friendly and snappy. Highly recommended.
Riaan is so kind and friendly. Best food in town.
Wow Riaan, the food is fantastic and the muffins - one look and I am hooked. This is one place where the food is only surpassed by the service. Thank you for bring a breath of fresh air to our meals there.