Café Del Sol Classico, as its name suggests, was the first of what’s come to be a trio of restaurants, but the name also points to the type of food on offer – classic, homemade Italian food just as it’s made in mamma’s kitchen. The mama in this case, Luciana, owns and runs the restaurants together with her daughter Chiara and son Ryan.
For starters, try the popular crispy calamari heads with a squeeze of lemon and their homemade garlic aioli; or the tricolore salad – an ode to the Italian flag – of gorgeous fior di latte mozzarella, avocado, and plum tomatoes garnished with basil leaves.
Have a main course of pasta, either the beautiful homemade ravioli of the day or the silky smooth tagliatelle with a rich and creamy porcini whiskey sauce. If pasta’s not your forte, the porcini chicken with a green pea and truffle oil risotto or the tender rolled pork fillet filled with parma ham, smoked mozzarella and fontina cheese are just two options under the extensive ‘secondi’ offerings, ensuring that there’s something for anyone.
Finish off the meal with a gorgeously smooth and creamy panna cotta – we had a beautiful vanilla one topped with strawberries and berry coulis – together with a fantastic espresso on the side.
The wine menu is extensive with a wide range of both international and local wines at varying price points. The gems are, as expected, on the pricier side but the list also features a great selection of quaffable and affordable options. The section ‘Proudly South African Italian’ is a fantastic addition and a great way to highlight some lesser-known locally grown varietals. Corkage is restricted to one bottle for two people and only allows for bottles not on the wine list.
The spirit of family is felt through the restaurant and the staff are no exception. Warm and welcoming with an in-depth knowledge of what’s on offer, the friendly staff manage to easily execute a smooth and sleek service even when the restaurant is full.
They’re known for their unique décor, which consists of words of wisdom and inspiration covering most portions of exposed wall space and even parts of the floor. Despite its location in a small parking lot shopping centre. The restaurant has garnered a strong and loyal following – as such, bookings are highly recommended.
So fresh are the homemade pastas and gnocchi that only a few portions of each are made for each service.
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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.
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.
Flawless, with enthusiastic and friendly staff even when the restaurant is full, which it almost always is.
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.
Book in advance – getting a table as a walk-in is unlikely.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.