Venues

Café del Sol Classico

Café del Sol Classico
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  • Location 011 704 6493
  • Phone Number Olivedale Corner, Corner Olive and President Fouche Roads, Olivedale, Randburg, Johannesburg
  • email bookings@cafedelsol.co.za
  • Website URL www.cafedelsol.co.za
  • Opening Hours

    Lunch: Tuesday to Sunday 12 noon to 3pm

    Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 6pm to 9.30pm

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Cost
R140 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Bistro fare, Italian, Mediterranean, Modern, Vegetarian
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500
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Critic's review

Kholeka Kumalo

Food
This family-run restaurant is a real hidden gem inside a mall you’d never ordinarily find yourself in, but the food will have you returning regularly and leave you beaming from ear to ear from starter to dessert. It’s a true taste of authentic Italian food that’s close enough for those who can’t make it to Italy, thanks to mother Luciana Traccini, daughter Chiara Viljoen and son Ryan Viljoen.

The fresh, wholesome, simple and slow-cooked menu can be slightly daunting with the many options, so ask your waitron (or Chiara) for recommendations based on what you feel like. Restaurant favourites include Italian primavera rolls, deep-fried rice pastry with imported Parma ham, rocket and smoked mozzarella (they taste like fancy spring rolls) served with a white sauce; a creamy, moreish tomato soup topped with gorgonzola and chives; and battered prawns served on a bed of lemon-infused mashed avocado, cherry tomatoes and chilli sauce. Back on the starter menu, by popular demand, are tender, crumbed squid heads served with a homemade roasted garlic mayonnaise.

You’d be wise to follow Chiara’s advice on her favourite dishes for your main course: porcini chicken, two crispy-skinned roasted breasts on the bone covered with porcini mushroom sauce and served on a bed of porcini mushroom, pea and truffle oil risotto – definitely a risotto to convert the unconverted – and seasonal vegetables. She also recommends the gorgonzola fillet, pan-fried in a homemade balsamic and port reduction, served with spring onion mash and a rustic rocket, rosa tomato and parmesan salad; the stuffed calamari filled with red pepper, olives, capers, ricotta, parmesan and chilli, and lastly, the al salmone vodka gnocchi served in a creamy napoletana sauce. The options are gloriously endless and portions are generous.

Mama’s pavlova is an uncontested favourite for dessert – sticky meringue, vanilla cream and fresh berries.

Drink
There's a wide wine list with a few local favourites such as Sophie Te’Blanche, Warwick First Lady and Haute Cabrière. There's also an interesting variety of red, white and rosé ‘Proudly South African Italian wines’ – Italian cultivars, grown and made into wine in South Africa.

Service
Flawless, with enthusiastic and friendly staff even when the restaurant is full, which it almost always is.

Ambience
Candlelit dinner adds a soft romance to the predominantly red and white décor. Inspirational dining, quite literally, is highlighted by thoughtful, philosophical quotes on the menu and all over the walls.

And...
Book in advance – getting a table as a walk-in is unlikely.

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Jodi-Ann Pearton

    Food
    Nonna’s menu never disappoints and one can see this from the smiles beaming off every face in this hidden gem of a restaurant in Olivedale. Despite the fact that Café del Sol is to be found in a somewhat semi-deserted shopping center, it is always full and the food never ceases to tantalise the palate. Every item on the menu is inspired from classical Italian roots and is cooked from first principles, using only the freshest ingredients. Nonna, the founder Italian founder and patron of this fine establishment, can often be seen keeping a watchful eye on her kitchen hands, when she is not walking the floor and taking orders from her clients, or sharing the daily specials. These include tender pasta pockets of ravioli stuffed with roasted butternut and served with crispy sage and beurre noisette, hand rolled gnocchi and classical Napolitano sauce, crispy squid heads with aioli and seared salmon served with hand cut pasta or veal saltimbocca. The a la carte menu is extensive. The perfectly prepared risottos are a testimony to the exceptional skills of the establishment and the delicate porcini risotto should not be missed. For the health conscious, the seared salmon, crusted in black sesame and served with avocado mash and grapefruit is just mouthwatering. Oh, and do not forget the puds and cakes – all made in-house and totally delicious. Rich, moreish and over the top. What a joy it is to dine at such a wonderful, easygoing establishment where the food is so comforting. It is not a cheap night out, but is well worth it.

    Drinks
    The wine list is of a reasonable size, with a suitable selection of both red and white wines within most budgets. There’s also a good selection of beers and spirits to choose from.

    Service
    The service is excellent but since Alex, the former host, has moved to the Botanica branch, it does feel as though the restaurant has lost one thumb. Over time it is sure to grow back but for now they are regaining balance, even though it has been six months. The staff on the floor are always kind and friendly and helpful, but be warned they are not always as friendly when you try and phone to book, perhaps because they are terribly busy. Booking via e-mail (and well in advance to avoid disappointment) is sometimes easier.

    Ambience
    The ambience is fabulous: feel good quotes from floor to ceiling all over Café del Sol inspire conversation, and the patrons are always bubbly and lively. The hum of the busy kitchen filters into the atmosphere and creates a high-energy buzz, vibrant and fun. At night, candlelight and low lighting create a soft ambience; over lunch time the feel is more street style café.

    And…
    This is also a great spot to pop in for coffee and cake during the day.

    (August 2015)

  • Jodi-Ann Pearton

    The 2015 Best Everyday Eateries are voted for by Eat Out readers. To find the winners, we calculated the restaurants with the highest average ratings on eatout.co.za from 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015 – that’s a full year of reviews and star ratings. Café del Sol in Randburg won the award for the best Italian eatery in Gauteng.

    Eat Out critic Jodi-Ann Pearton paid them a visit, to find out why Joburg residents keep coming back for more.

    Food
    Despite the fact that Café del Sol is to be found in a somewhat semi-deserted Olivedale Corner Centre, it is always full and the food never ceases to tantalise the palate. Every item on the menu is inspired from Italian roots and is cooked from first principles, using only the freshest ingredients.

    Luciana Traccani, the Italian founder and patron of this fine establishment, can often be seen keeping a watchful eye on her kitchen hands, when she is not walking the floor and taking orders from her clients or sharing the daily specials.

    These include tender pasta pockets of ravioli stuffed with roasted butternut and served with crispy sage and beurre noisette, hand-rolled gnocchi and Napolitana sauce, crisp squid heads with aioli, and seared salmon served with hand-cut pasta.

    The à la carte menu is extensive. The perfectly prepared risottos are a testimony to the exceptional skills of the establishment, and the delicate porcini risotto should not be missed. For the health-conscious, the seared salmon, crusted in black sesame and served with avocado mash and grapefruit, is just mouth-watering.

    Oh, and do not forget the puds and cakes – all made in-house and totally rich, moreish and over the top.

    What a joy it is to dine at such a wonderful, easygoing establishment where the food is so comforting. It is not a cheap night out, but it’s well worth it.

    Drinks
    The wine list is of a reasonable size, with a suitable selection of both red and white wines within most budgets. There’s a good selection of beers and spirits to choose from.

    Service
    The service is excellent, but since former host Alex has moved to the Botanico branch in Bryanston it does feel as though the restaurant has lost one thumb. Over time it is sure to grow back, but for now they are regaining balance, even though it has been six months.

    The staff on the floor are always kind and friendly and helpful, but be warned they are not always as friendly when you try to book by phone, perhaps because they are terribly busy. Booking via email (and well in advance to avoid disappointment) is sometimes easier.

    Ambience
    The ambience is fabulous: Feel-good quotes from floor to ceiling inspire conversation, and the patrons are always bubbly and lively. The hum of the busy kitchen filters into the atmosphere and creates a high-energy buzz. At night, candlelight and low lighting create a soft ambience; over lunch time the feel is more street style café.

    And…
    This is also a great spot to pop in for coffee and cake during the day.

  • Leila Saffarian

    Dining out in Johannesburg often means enjoying lunch or dinner in yet another shopping complex. The situation is what it is, but what makes the above more tolerable, in fact even pleasurable, is enjoying Italian cuisine at its best, in a restaurant that not only puts Nonna’s cooking to shame but also received the title of Best Italian Restaurant in 2012 from Eat Out. Clearly with good reason; there’s a load of good chatter happening about Café del Sol.

    Food
    A large menu means there is something for every taste. Naturally, you'll find pasta, as with any good Italian eatery. The handmade ravioli and gnocchi in particular are very tempting. When it comes to the ravioli of the day – hand-made pasta pockets with a seasonal filling – only ten portions are made daily, so hold thumbs they’ve still got some left for you. The same principle goes for the gnocchi, which comes served with browned butter and sage, a Napoletana sauce, or fresh basil pesto.

    As for the risottos, the porcini version won’t disappoint. Porcini mushrooms, fresh peas and a hint of truffle oil add extra flavour to this dish of perfectly cooked rice (R105). If carne is your thing, the tender rolled pork fillet will have you relishing every bite. It’s a delicious dish of rolled pork fillet, stuffed with parma ham, fontina and smoked mozzarella, and served with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and a sage sauce. The flavours complement each other beautifully and the sage really enhances the flavour of the pork (R120).

    Stuffed calamari is one of their best-sellers: delve into Falklands calamari tubes filled with red pepper, green olives, capers, ricotta cheese, Grana Padano and chilli. It's served with thin capellini pasta, seasonal stir-fried vegetables and a beurre blanc sauce (R115).

    Drinks 
    A good selection of wines present, along with local beers and spirits.

    Service
    Service is excellent and the waiters very attentive. They show a thorough knowledge of the menu and are helpful when it comes to food and wine pairings.

    Ambience
    The restaurant has a fresh, clean and modern feel. The walls and floors are adorned with foodie-inspired quotes. There is a buzz in the air as the restaurant fills up. Patrons seem to relax into the ease that flows from the kitchen to the tables.

    And… 
    If there is any space left for a touch of la dolce vita, give the dark chocolate tart a try. One portion is rich and decadent enough to share (R50).

    (July 2014)

  • The 2012 winner of Best Italian Restaurant. Sensational food served in an unpretentious, modern setting has made this eatery a firm favourite. They make stuffed ravioli (try the artichoke), gnocchi and basil pesto every day. The relaxed atmosphere belies their absolute precision and passion. (Eat Out magazine 2014)
  • Food
    The menu offers a wide range of modern Italian dishes, and not-to-be-missed specials. The traditional Nonna’s light, fluffy gnocchi pillows in a subtle dolce di latte Gorgonzola and walnut sauce are sublime. The cheesecake is a must try, so save some room.

    Wine
    The wine list offers an eclectic selection with a combination of classic, easy-drinking wines as well as contemporary brands.

    Service
    The service is top-notch and attentive without being disruptive. The maître d’ sets the tone with his enthusiasm and knowledge.

    Ambience
    Owners Ryan and Chiara have managed to create a cosy and whimsical space with an elegant yet relaxed feel. Décor is modern and minimalist white with splashes of red and black.

    And...
    Café del Sol is not your typical Nonna’s restaurant, but offers gourmet dining that embodies the essence of traditional Italian flavours and hospitality. (NM, October 2012)
  • Gwynne Conlyn

    It's a relaxed place, but the entire experience is executed with absolute precision and passion. The décor and open-plan kitchen are inspiring and inviting. Cafe del Sol stands out because of its consistency and the fact that everything works together to give a complete dining experience. A neighbourhood favourite for mid-week dinner. The gnocchi is always light, as it should be; also order the tender stuffed calamari.

User reviews

  • This was our first visit to this restaurant but it won't be the last. It really is excellent in every way. For a restaurant rated so highly it is good value for money as well.
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  • We had dinner at Café del Sol in Olivedale for my boyfriend's 45th birthday, and as always the food was just out of this world!! I have been going there since 2011, and hardly miss an opportunity to rave to our friends & family about the divine setting and glorious dishes. I’ll certainly not forget getting slightly reprimanded by Mamma Luciana on one occasion, when I spilled red wine and attempted to use their white napkins for cleaning up  The vibe is crisp, buzzing and welcoming, yet also calm and relaxed so we felt completely on our own while talking and enjoying each other’s company. We were surrounded by other diners who all seemed to be having the time of their lives too, and I have never seen or heard a customer complain there. I enquired about the bubbly they stocked when I made the booking via email, and upon our arrival I saw they had taken the initiative to already set our table with Champagne glasses. Lindani our waiter flawlessly resisted the specials - as usual we just gaped with our mouths slightly open, trying to memorize all that’s on offer. The service he gave us was superb, and I sent an email to management to validate him for taking such good care of us, without coming to our table unnecessarily. All the staff were well presented and friendly. As far as the food goes, I seriously wish I had an Italian vocabulary! Let me just say that I doubt there is anything on that menu, from starters to dessert, that will disappoint. We had calamari starters, steak and risotto as mains, and unfortunately could not get anywhere close to fitting in the cheesecake that stared at me when I walked in. Overall just a delightful experience. This is absolutely my favourite restaurant, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a GREAT dinner and evening out in Joburg.
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  • Pamela was an awesome host, the food was amazing and the company was great. Need a restaurant like this in Port Elizabeth. Gavin and Anni
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  • My fiancé and I were treated to dinner here one night. I have been wanting to come to Café Del Sol for years and have always waited for a special occasion, but then I call and they’re fully booked. This time around we got lucky. I called and we got our table for two for Saturday night. We were greeted by the hostess who showed us to our table that was nice and close to the open plan kitchen. We took our time to order drinks because we wanted to make sure we ordered the right wine for the food we were about to order. Our waiter was patient with us but kept coming to check if we were ready which was great. We ordered some white wine and our starters – we shared the primavera rolls and the squid heads… now, the primavera rolls look like dainty desserts before you bite into the cheesy, parma ham goodness… really tasty. The squid heads were by far my favourite starter, they were seasoned beautifully, they were crunchy without being too covered in batter and with a squeeze of lemon you could taste the calamari properly and the texture was spot on… and the aoli that came with was great for dipping. For mains, we both chose the seafood risotto (I had read many reviews prior to booking for dinner and there were some raving reviews about this dish)… It did NOT disappoint. The risotto rice was cooked perfectly, there was an incredible amount of flavour, and a very generous portion of seafood… I had a bite of seafood in every bite of my meal – the freshness of the baby tomatoes in the dish help balance out the richness and creaminess of the risotto. We could not have chosen a better main – I was blown away, as was my fiancé. We then took a 20 minute break and enjoyed out wine before ordering dessert, so that we could make sure we had plenty of room to enjoy them. I had the pavlova (I’m a sucker for meringue and berries) and he has the chocolate tart… both were absolutely delicious and full of flavour. The service throughout our entire stay was absolutely fantastic, we were well looked after, our glasses were never empty and the waiting staff were always smiling. Honestly can not wait to go back and try other items from the menu as I can imagine they must be just as outstanding as the ones we had. What a fantastic experience. The décor is lovely, it’s nice to see the interaction in the kitchen and overall it’s just a great vibe – it can get a little noisy, but that didn’t bother us at all. I’ll definitely be back for more!
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  • On the 17th September my wife SPOILT me by taking me out to dinner at Cafe Del Sol. Well I, no we, were truly spoilt by the magnificent service and meal at Cafe del Sol. We arrived at the restaurant only to be seated at our table which was covered in red rose petals. That just started was was to become a very memorable dining experience. The service from the staff was fantastic and the meals we ordered were incredibly well presented and cooked to perfection. To the staff and management of Cafe Del Sol, many many thanks for making our wedding anniversary so special.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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