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.
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.
Experienced waiters are professional, efficient and well-versed on the menu.
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.
Ciro offers a private home-catering service, which allows you to impress your guests with his creations.
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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.
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.
Ciro runs a tight ship. His staff are efficient and old school polite. Things generally do not go wrong around here.
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.
Vegetarians love it here, because they are excitingly well catered for. – Marie-Lais Emond
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.
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.
The service at Ciro’s is exceptional. Waiters are very professional and knowledgeable about the food and able to make good recommendations.
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.
It’s a very romantic spot, which makes this eatery perfect for date night.
Gwynne ConlynI 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)
Love the place and banter from Ciro. Have not been there for sometime, but still dream about the dishes I have had.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Duck main very dry. Pasta dishes good but overpriced! Wine list very limited.
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.
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!