Johannesburg has long adored the magical family behind the Café del Sol brand. They always make an effort to remember you by name and treat you as part of their family. Tre is the youngest of their three restaurants and in many ways the cheekiest: expect eclectic and eccentric.
The menu showcases many of the family favourites, including Mediterranean stuffed calamari, beetroot carpaccio and freshly made gnocchi, pastas and signature risottos, but there’s also a selection of jazzy, retro dishes to go along with their swanky, Art Deco theme. These include ‘Star Dust’ salmon with chickpea mash and green olive salsa; ‘Sidewalk Stomp’ sous vide duck breast with butternut gnocchi in a sage and citrus beurre blanc; and their ‘Hootin de Toot’ fillet, served with a sundried tomato risotto and dolcelatte gorgonzola cream sauce.
We opted for the salmon and beetroot carpaccios to start, followed by the gnocchi with gorgonzola cream and the ‘Ragutime’ tagliatelle. The beetroot carpaccio is an absolute vision and delectably tasty – the perfect blend of earthy tones, creamy goat’s cheese and citrus zing. The salmon carpaccio is served with citrus segments, deep-fried capers, fennel and basil shoots, and an avocado mousse. It’s also supposed to come with vanilla crème fraîche but on the night of our visit the kitchen had mistaken either cream cheese or mascarpone for crème fraîche, making this accompaniment a tad too sweet – otherwise the dish would have been glorious. The mains were both wonderful – beautifully handmade gnocchi and tagliatelle cooked to perfection with superb sauces. You can’t go wrong.
Desserts are all made in-house and anything, from the towering pavlova dancing with berries and cream to the oozingly sumptuous chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice cream, will put you on cloud nine.
They have a great selection of cocktails as well as wines by the glass. You’ll also find a good variety of champagnes and MCCs and an exemplary wine list with local and international offerings.
None of the family members were there on the evening of our visit and, with personalities as big as theirs, you feel something is missing. The waiters are attentive and quick on their feet (as is the kitchen), but the winning formula of Café Del Sol needs one of the magical trio who put the soul into their Sol.
It’s a stunning setup wholeheartedly dedicated to Art Deco glitz and glam. It’s a masterpiece of restaurant design and décor with exquisite lighting and great acoustics. There’s plenty of outside seating as well as a beautiful bar for cocktails either before or after lunch and dinner.
If you’re a lover of good cocktails then make sure to visit their bar, The Landmark, next to Café Del Sol Botanico in Bryanston – you won’t regret it!
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Kick off your day with slow-cooked, creamy coconut oats in a dish called Toot, Toot, Tootsie. Indeed, a toot of whisky cream is one of five the topping options, but the combo of rosewater syrup, fresh berries and coconut cream is highly recommended. All your fave breakfasts are here, like the eggs Benedict, the dramatic Under the Blanket, with an egg-white omelette, homemade tomato chutney, mozzarella, caramelised onion and pale mushrooms. Breakfast bubbles are par for this course.
Café del Sol TRE lunches and dinners can be composed from the same menu. The afternoon snacks are unusual too; think polenta fingers with dipping sauces. The fun titles for the dishes belie the seriousness of the chef’s knowledge of flavours – not all faithfully Italian by any means. Guests can choose from traditional sections like carpaccio, gnocchi, risotto and pasta, but will find many surprises on the plate.
Two generations of producing risottos within the Treccani family doesn’t go amiss. The oxtail risotto is perfection, every rice pearl perfect, the richness seeped in, with bright confetti of crisped root vegetable shavings lying lightly on top. The Black Lightning papardelle, made on site, of course, is silky with whisky, mushrooms and cream flavours, plus a truffly hint, resting on a forest floor of crispy, earthy and dark mushroom rubble.
A carpaccio that cannot be beaten for flavour, Makin’ Whoopee, sports layers of sweet vegetables and sour fruit, with salty pistachios and goat’s cheese. Also try the super salads and a great main of sous-vide rooibos-smoked duck, served with grilled spring peaches, smoky jus and richly buttered mash with real vanilla.
A dessert special that has made it onto the menu for good reason is a wondrously naughty arrangement in glass of homemade fig ice cream, gorgonzola mousse, grape or pomegranate pearls, and crisp pumpkin-seed melba toast. If you love affogato, the version here has all the tastes, textures and temperatures in one stunning caffeine feast.
There are 20 gin cocktails slung by mixologist Julian Short, and there are gins on tap. There’s a full menu of wines by the glass, which is fun for celebrating each dish differently. On it are loads of French bubbles (including Taittinger), prosecco, SA MCCs (including a Jacques Bruére at R55 a glass), as well as a very intriguing selection of reds and whites from SA and France. For something lighter, sip on mixed juices or freshly brewed coffee from Parkhurst local roastery, Urban Grind.
It’s bound to be good at Café del Sol TRE, with Ryan and Chiara, or even their mother Luciana in the vicinity. Food and drinks arrive surprisingly swiftly, staff are engaging, and booking and paying is a dream.
“It’s our wild child,” says Luciana proudly of the art-deco restaurant. “Our grand passion.” The golden Chrysler-building-style deco elements work well in restaurants and this one has curated them more carefully into pelmets, seating and glass detailing. The slightly wicked décor is a large part of the glitzy attraction, and most other patrons seem to find the quirky names fun and enjoy making drinks decisions.
TRE stands for the three Treccani family members involved, and for being the third Café del Sol restaurant. The family's name also means three dogs in Italian dialect.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.