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La Cucina di Ciro

La Cucina di Ciro
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Cost
R155 avg main meal
Ambience
Contemporary cool
Food
Italian, Modern, Steak
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
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Critic's review

Rupesh Kassen

Food
La Cucina di Ciro is a Jozi icon that has stood the test of time. Chef Ciro Molinaro is passionate about seasonal ingredients prepared in a Mediterranean and Italian style. Starter options include lime-and-mint chickpea fritters topped with spicy eggplant; snails sautéed in chilli and garlic with roasted fennel; and calamari and prawns in a light tempura batter.

Diners can also look forward to a well-executed T-bone steak Fiorentina chargrilled in the Josper (charcoal oven) with crushed black pepper, olive oil and garlic, or the legendary homemade fettuccine with assorted line fish and seafood in a tomato salsa.

For the adventurous, thinly sliced calf’s liver, pan fried and topped with roast pears and a peppercorn port sauce, will certainly delight. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the risotto with peas, mint and roasted pine nuts, or the vegetable gratin topped with butternut and sweet potato mash. The simplicity of these dishes allows for the high-quality ingredients to shine.

Desserts are also a highlight, especially the chocolate-and-orange souffle dusted with vanilla sugar – it's worth the 25 minute wait. Regulars, however, favour the buttermilk pancakes with butterscotch sauce, roasted pears and almonds. Ciro always has specials available and will personally come to the table to entice you with what's on offer for the day.

Drinks
The careful choice of wines could not be more on point. It’s a good mix of the familiar and the more exciting, with a focus on local wines and some French Champagnes.

Service
Experienced waiters are professional, efficient and well-versed on the menu.

Ambience
This is a cosy setting on an elegant homestead, with a flourishing garden during the summer that can be enjoyed from the outdoor veranda tables. For winter, a place next to the fire in one of the homely rooms indoors might be better suited for an intimate evening.

And…
Ciro offers a private home-catering service, which allows you to impress your guests with his creations.

(September 2016)

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  • Marie-Lais Emond

    Food
    Chef Ciro’s talent is to bring new taste experiences to the table. His cassoulet is a garlicky lamb dish, cooked with aubergines, red peppers, lentils and chickpeas. Another interesting dish sees him encasing a fresh SASSI fish in a butterbean and saffron paste, so that the happy golden crust holds soft and steamy flesh, adorned with citrus and mint as a sauce. Each morsel is fragrant and moreish. Classics on his menu, so popular he daren’t remove it, include the grilled fillet in a puddle of light Madeira sauce, served with a raviolo of duck liver mixed with walnut and fig. Pasta is really something special here. Consider for instance the fettucine with tiger prawns, full of garlic and chilli and softened with celery shavings and a fresh reduction of tomato juices. But you may opt for the very simple dish of fresh fettucine with farm butter, shavings of pecorino and grilled artichoke – perfectly delicious. The bread is miraculous too, so a starter of bread, toasted and piled with white anchovy, fresh apple, sweet onion and a dash of aioli, is a piece of heaven. That said, the snails, served here in a tomato and herbed garlic sauce with hot and spongy fingers of Parmesan polenta, is still the most popular starter. Desserts are also a highlight, especially the panettone-and-butter pudding with its supreme sauce of amaretto, orange and apricot. The panna cottas are famous as well – the versions change a lot, but an example would be a coffee panna cotta, paired with soft black cherries and some glazed mandarin orange.

    Drinks
    The wine list bulges with beauteous options. They like to support newcomers of the boutique sort, and there is always a great variety. Ciro plays sommelier, bustling around in his full-length black apron, suggesting the magic elixirs to round off his dishes.

    Service
    Ciro runs a tight ship. His staff are efficient and old school polite. Things generally do not go wrong around here.

    Ambience
    It was a very good idea to move the restaurant to the elegant homestead it now occupies. In season, you’ll find copious amounts of flowering red roses, to match the touches of crimson in the décor and the silver and red chandeliers. The large verandah is the first spot to fill in this spacious venue. The vibe is relaxed, and the feeling you get is one of generosity.

    And…
    Vegetarians love it here, because they are excitingly well catered for. – Marie-Lais Emond

  • Mokgadi Itsweng

    Food 
    The food at Ciro's, as it is affectionately known, is a blend of Italian and Mediterranean cooking. The menu is small, with daily specials highlighting what is seasonal and freshly available.

    For starters, try the aubergine and parma ham bake. Thin layers of aubergine are pan-fried in a little olive oil, smothered in a fresh tomato sauce and topped with buffalo mozzarella and parma ham. The delicate flavour of the aubergine is perfectly complemented by the salty ham.

    The restaurant is famous for fresh past. Try the pappardelle with spicy sausage in tomato sauce with fresh basil. The freshly made pasta turns this simple dish into a memorable treat.

    If you have a sweet tooth, the lemon tart with a caramelised top is a definite must. The melt-in-your-mouth shortcrust pastry marries well with the creamy lemon filling.

    Drinks 
    The wine selection is large and caters for a wide range of budgets. They represent mostly of South African wines, with most wines available by the glass.

    Service 
    The service at Ciro’s is exceptional. Waiters are very professional and knowledgeable about the food and able to make good recommendations.

    Ambience 
    The setting is formal yet still relaxed, with tablecloths adding old-world charm to the space. Single-stem proteas in glass vases feature on every table, the lighting is low and soft, and they play beautiful jazz music in the background.

    And… 
    It’s a very romantic spot, which makes this eatery perfect for date night.

    (August 2014)

  • Sit on the veranda with a group to sip wine and while the afternoon away. Highlights: potato gnocchi with broccoli, spinach, walnut and gorgonzola; and lamb cassoulet with rosemary, garlic, fennel and barlotti beans. (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    The cult of personality is key in our modern age and chef patron Ciro Molinaro is a huge attraction at this popular establishment. The good news is that the food is also a draw card, with the emphasis on freshly sourced and often organic ingredients. The menu is small, well thought-out and changes regularly. Look out for the wild mushroom suppli, oven-baked and served with a Gorgonzola and aubergine mousse, and the chicken breast involtini stuffed with figs, ricotta and cashew nuts and served with a harissa and coconut sauce.

    Wine
    Good South African wines at reasonable prices are balanced by a selection of accessible Australian, French and Chilean options.

    Service
    Well-informed and friendly, with the genial Ciro in attendance.

    Ambience
    An old Parktown North house has been transformed into a warmly comforting restaurant that can sometimes be noisy.

    And...
    The Pudding Shop is the more informal extension to this establishment. (JW, October 2012)
  • Gwynne Conlyn

    I adore sitting on the veranda with a group of girlfriends with Ciro being the genial host and allowing us to simply drink and gossip the Saturday afternoon away! Good quality and consistency in a changing dining milieu. Favourite dishes include their home made pasta, like deeply flavourful potato gnocchi tossed with steamded broccoli and baby spinach, with walnut and gorgonzola sauce. I also love the lamb cassoulet roasted in their wood oven with rosemary, garlic, fennel and Barlotti beans. (July 2013)

User reviews

  • We had a lovely dinner at La Cucina Di Ciro. We had not been in years, and decided to take our American friend there last night. We were happy that the restaurant was still up to our expectations. The quality of the food was great, the owner was still very friendly and the service was on point. It is also such a lovely venue. We will be back, again and again and again.
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  • Never going back!! When my mother was out from the U.K we decided to take her to la Cucina. Apart from the appalling service, the food was close on inedible and the prices have become absolutely ludicrous. When our main course arrived and it wasn't what we ordered, the response from the kitchen was 'how dare we interfere with the chefs artistic flare' My wife then, against my better judgement, decided to book at the pudding shop to celebrate the birth of our child. Apart from being completely unaccomdating, they informed us (after we had provisionally reserved a date) that they had given the booking to another party. We feel as if their approach is arrogant. Good luck to them!
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  • Ciro's kitchen is the most established restaurant in our neighbourhood, and he still produces some of the best food in Joburg! Add to that the personal service, and very romantic setting, and you cannot go wrong.
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  • Love the place and banter from Ciro. Have not been there for sometime, but still dream about the dishes I have had.

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  • After a nice but forgettable meal I asked the owner who was sitting at a table to direct me to the loo. He pointed me to the parking lot as his assistant was directing me to the loo. He quickly tried to make light by suggesting the other option was the Shell garage down the road. I most definitely will not be returning- quite clearly they don't need my business.

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  • Good food, marred by supercilious service and general attitude. Felt unwelcome and ripped off, culminating in a charge of R85 for a single glass of luke-warm Chardonnay.

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  • Everytime I want to visit this restaurant, I'm put off by the fact that they state that there is a "minimum spend of R150 for dinner".

    I would more than likely have spent double that on a dinner, but the fact that I'm told I have to, before I've even seen the menu, is highly presumptuous - in my opinion.

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  • We love this establishment in our neighbourhood, always consisted, and last night's taste of the winter menu was no exception. Prawns and chicken livers were great starters, and veal and duck mains very tasty and large portions. Good wine list. Ciro visits each table to explain the specials. Wonderful ambience in the old Jozi house, if somewhat noisy. But that's to be expected with a full restaurant!

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  • Have heard great things so had high expectations. Excellent food in a relaxed environment made it an evening to remember. Ciro had personal interaction with diners and demonstrated obvious care in the superb menu and food. Accompanied by a bottle of Colmant (best Cap Classique available in my opinion). Very impressed and will be back.

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  • Duck main very dry. Pasta dishes good but overpriced! Wine list very limited.

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  • I have to say I didn't think this restaurant lived up to its reputation at all, either they had a bad night or the standards have dropped. Starters were served within minutes of ordering and mine was icy (fridge?) cold followed by a main of Porcini mushroom pasta with way too much lemon to taste any of the Parma ham followed by a very stock standard crème brulee. The waiter seemed disinterested and tried to rush us through the courses. The only highlight was the Thelema wine. For a price tag of 480 ZAR/person for the 3 courses I have to say this was a disappointment.

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  • We had a dinner recently, and I have to say that I miss the previous venue both from the food and ambiance perspectives. The food was decent but nothing exciting. The service was quite bad for this type of restaurant. Customers shouldn't have to say what they ordered when the food comes - the waiter should know who to serve what...one of the waiters placed an appetizer on top of a bread place. - really shocking!

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  • The fresh pasta is served uncooked. But dare not point this out to Ciro, or face a condescending lecture on how pasta should be cooked, instead of an apology.
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  • The food was absolutely fantastic. I live in Cape Town, but will most definitely be back when next in Jozi. Keep it going!
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  • We had a fantastic evening at Ciros, especially given that they didnt have any record of our booking. The staff couldnt have been friendlier and the food was delicious - original combinations and beautifully cooked. One of the best meals weve had in Johannesburg.
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  • My wife & I enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Ciros on Saturday night. I could not fault Ciro on anything. We were last there about 3 weeks ago and it was great to see that the menu had changed once again. There are not many menus in town that change that often and each time, you are greeted with new exciting choices. This restaurant is a must if you enjoy great italian cuisine.
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  • My wife & I enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Ciros on Saturday night. I could not fault Ciro on anything. We were last there about 3 weeks ago and it was great to see that the menu had changed once again. There are not many menus in town that change that often and each time, you are greeted with new exciting choices. This restaurant is a must if you enjoy great italian cuisine.
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  • I had dinner at La Cucina di Ciro on a Tuesday evening 12 August. Our waiter Michael was superb, very knowledgeable and friendly. He was chatty and fun without being too familiar. He really was great. The food? I was very disappoointed, I must say. I havent been to the restaurant in about a year and was looking forward to it. I had pork fillet that sounded delish on the menu, but what arrived on my plate can only be described as dull. The pork fillet was rather tasteless and the veggies and rosti (in inverted commas because it was too mushy to be called a real rosti) was just as bland and uninteresting. My companion had the duck. It was overcooked and dry and served on the exact same bland veggies and grated potato dish. After a gruelling 4 days of the Jewellex show we wanted to treat ourselves to a special meal. La Cucina de Ciro was definitely not the right choice. The restaurant is absolutely gorgeous, the ambience is great and Ciro does his rounds, but the food is disappointing. I didnt complain to Ciro that night, as I said, we were so exhausted from the show, and the restaurant was super busy. I did mention it to the waiter, hopefully he passed on the message.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair

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