The menu starts with a page of specials of the day, which may include an aged grass-fed sirloin (cross cut with fat on) in either 200g or 300g options.
Starters include fresh oysters, tuna carpaccio, Sicilian orange and fennel salad with radishes, olives and mint. It’s utterly delicious. A vegan section follows, then a pasta section with great frutti di mare made from hand-made egg-based pasta.
Various lovely sides accompany the main items, such as creamy mash, potato chips in duck fat, an Italian side salad or fried polenta. Sauces are served separately and can be ordered with any of the mains or even the filet Ritrovo for two.
The dessert section includes delicious profiteroles with watermelon sorbet, a lovely warm rooibos rice pudding, Italian nougat, and a delicious orange bavarois tart.
The wine list is a very luxurious A3 leather folder (food menus to follow the same size), offering wonderful examples of South African and international wines. One can of course also dip into a great selection of wines by the carafe or half bottle. The wine list runs over numerous pages, is beautifully laid out and ends with some apéritifs, liqueurs and digestifs. They serve an Aperol as a complimentary welcome drink.
Forti Mazzone brought his team of well-trained and extremely professional waiting staff from Ritrovo, and they appear to enjoy their new environment as much as he does, looking light and young as they ‘dance’ between the tables. Two barmen behind their wide and inviting bar counter as well as a permanent receptionist welcome one at the door on arrival, and Forti may also be amenable to giving a guided tour.
Out on the patio there are three modern gazebos with funky lighting at night. This is an exceptionally beautiful space with views all over Pretoria East. The restaurant is probably as big outside as inside. The inside is an eclectic mix of art, functionality and business. Adjacent to the entrance is a small glass-enclosed butcher shop where they process whole carcasses, dry-age whole rib-eye on the bone and pre-pack meat to customers’ requests. There is a fantastic walk-in humidor for cigar aficionados, housing around R500 000 worth of exceptional cigars. The large open kitchen is separated from the restaurant by massive glass panels, allowing one to see steam rise from the built-in pasta boiler. Beautiful handcraft luminaires by Stephen Pikus and many other bespoke art, furniture, crockery and tableware create the right ambience. Two private rooms, one of which doubles as the cellar, may also be booked for private functions.
As part of the newly opened Times Square Casino, it is lovely to know that one can pop into Forti Grill and Bar every day of the week – they are always open for lunch and dinner. Sandwiched between other restaurants and a club, the entire strip creates a great atmosphere for dining and enjoyment.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.