Ambience★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Service★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Food★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This meat palace has been wowing carnivores for years, and still maintains its impeccable standards.
There are few places in Cape Town that serve meat of the variety and quality that Italian chef/patron Giorgio Nava provides at the various incarnations of his Carne brand. This is the original, and still very popular. Don’t get too distracted by the treasures on offer on the Dalle Griglia section of the menu; there are some consummately assembled antipasti that need attention. The trio of beef tartare, served with briny anchovies and a sparkling salsa verde is a very tasty gateway to what’s coming. Or perhaps start more simply with a caprese salad, distinguished by the creamy excellence of the burrata mozzarella. Another standout favourite is the ravioli of lamb shoulder served with sage butter, the flavour of the Karoo lamb lifted by the charry sauce. The better known cuts like fillet, rump and sirloin are impeccably hung and prepared, but are pricy. You get the same flavour and juicy tenderness from less well-known and less expensive cuts like spider and hangar steaks. Don’t bother with a sauce; the meat doesn’t need it. If you must have a side, the thin cut frites and sautéed spinach are perfect accompaniments. If there’s room after the last meaty mouthful, the chocolate fondant oozes decadent richness.
The wine list is extensive and carefully curated, with a good selection of meat-friendly wines. It would be preferable to have more choice by the glass. There are also some Italian cult wines available at mouth-watering prices.
The waiting staff are passionate about meat and delight in sharing their knowledge.
Sparse industrial and cosmopolitan décor; but noisy when full.
A night where the food is more important than the conversation.
A decade down the line and the Italian-inspired steakhouse from chef-patron Giorgio Nava still draws in a loyal crowd of meat-loving locals and tourists.
It’s a far cry from your average steakhouse though, in both price and presentation. Forget about sauces and bastes: here the steaks arrive with little more than a dressing of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Ask for béarnaise and you might be on the receiving end of some colourful Italian from the chef.
Look out for unusual-yet-tasty cuts such as spider or hangar, while the selection of bone-in steaks is superb, if expensive. The perfectly grilled 1.2kg La Fiorentina T-bone that serves two is justifiably the star of the steak menu, and well worth the extra spend. There are thin-cut fries and steamed broccoli for sides, but they’re bit-players against the excellent steak.
Bookending the beef is a selection of wonderful starters and desserts, many drawn from the menu of Nava’s much-loved 95 Keerom across the street. Here the ravioli of slow-braised lamb shoulder is memorable, as is Nava’s superb dark chocolate fondant.
An extensive wine list, heavy on the reds, includes a pleasing cross-section of South Africa’s iconic estates alongside a handful of boutique producers. There’s also an excellent range of Italian wineries. End the meal with your choice of the dozen grappas on offer.
Knowledgeable waiters are always on hand to talk you through the selection of specialty cuts.
There’s a sleek cosmopolitan feel to this basement restaurant, but the downside to the screed floors and industrial chic is that it can get noisy when full.
Few guests take advantage of the stylish upstairs bar for a pre-dinner drink or late-night digestif.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.