Venues

La Sosta

La Sosta
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Cost
R300 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Fine-dining food, Italian, Modern
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
500

Critic's review

Graham Howe

Food
Chef Cristiana Ariotto and front-of-house partner Giovanni offer authentic Italian cuisine and inimitable Milano hospitality at this destination restaurant in the countryside, winner of Best Italian Restaurant in Eat Out 2014. There will be no short-cuts in this rustic kitchen, where everything is made from scratch, from a tempting range of delicious pasta (bucatini, paccheri, ravioli and tagliatelle) to tender slow-cooked duck confit or lamb ragout, as well as divine panna cotta and tiramisu. Contemporary plates are exquisitely dressed with say, geranium petals from the garden and a smear of squid ink, mustard dust or parsley oil. Each dish is a careful composition, balancing colour, taste and texture – for example a study of shades of orange (baby carrots, orange jus and pumpkin). The menu changes regularly and showcases very fresh, seasonal fare, from fish (tuna carpaccio) and venison (springbok carpaccio) to unusual main ingredients like roasted farm rabbit loin with winter mushrooms to cocoa tortellini stuffed with wild boar. The earthy, smoky flavours of a special vegetarian platter will delight non-carnivores. The chef’s style is contemporary, subtle and innovative, skillfully combining ingredients without ever overwhelming the natural flavours. Sous vide technique preserves the sweet, delicate flavours of several dishes like pork belly. This restaurant is worth driving all the way to Swellendam for dinner - and even offers a complimentary transfer service from any of the local guesthouses.

Drinks
Reasonably priced selection of local Robertson, Cape and Italian wines by glass, carafe and bottle at low mark-ups – plus a tempting array of Italian apero’s and grappa.

Service
Attentive and warm, with a fine eye for detail, from the wine service to the pace of delivery of courses.

Ambience
Intimate and cosy. This sixteen-seater restaurant has a relaxed style – it feels like dining in a private dining-room.

And…
This is a restaurant with rooms in the auberge tradition - overnight in one of the three cottage suites and enjoy a superb Italian breakfast.

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  • Greg Landman

    Food 

    This is sophisticated Italian dining, about as far away from the usual pasta-and-sauce regime as you can get. Oh, they do serve pasta, but handled in such a different way you might be tricked into thinking it was the first time you were eating it. The kitchen is under the innovative hand of Chef Cristiana, once upon a time a Milanese business woman, with a passion for cooking that has ensured that La Sosta has carved a niche for itself that will continue to grow. Take, for instance, one of the starters called Sfero et Cubo: an egg yolk coated in a crumb mixture, popped into hot oil, served with a cube of mortadella and the richest chicken liver pâté you will eat in many a year. As you cut the yolk, it spreads across your plate, a golden taste sensation that needs bread to mop it up. Next, try the four birds: chicken, guinea fowl, turkey, and duck, shredded and encased in cabbage parcels, served with a rich reduction and a smidgen of mash. Pastas include buckwheat ravioli with tallegio cream and gnocchi with mushrooms and lemon oil. If you are hankering for something sweet, try the Tris Dolci, a taste of three desserts, including sublime tiramisu that has never heard of finger biscuits, a tiny, rich panna cotta, and an affogato with Cointreau over homemade vanilla ice cream – heaven. Dinner is offered as two or three courses and there are delicious vegetarian options.

    Wine 

    They offer a serious list of some of the best from this area and others, with some Italian offerings like Sangiovese Rubicone and Prosecco Teresa Rizzi. Also on hand is their fabulous homemade limoncello, and Nonino Grappa from Friuli. Half bottles at reasonable prices is a great idea.

    Service 

    The front of house is taken care of by Cristiana’s husband, Gianni, a one-time optician with an eye for the perfect moment.

    Ambience 

    A small space with uncluttered lines, light furniture and light wood floors, clean and professional in the Milanese manner. No frills and fancies – here the food reigns supreme. In summer the doors are opened wide to let in garden ambience.

    And… 

    It’s absolutely essential to reserve as there are only 20 places for dinner. They arrange complimentary pick up and delivery service from local guest houses, so you can go to town, so to speak.

    (August 2014)

  • Food
    Cristiana and Gianni Minori combine the kitchen flair of their hometown, Milan, with the finest produce the Cape has to offer in this stellar Italian eatery. There isn’t a pizza in sight on a menu that offers exquisite cuisine at very fair prices. Look forward to traditional Parma ham and melon, homemade ravioli filled with salmon and leek, or lamb cutlets dusted with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Local game also makes an appearance, with kudu fillet given a wintry boost with rich porcini mushrooms and truffles. A bowl of creamy tiramisu and a shot of good espresso are the perfect way to finish off.

    Wine
    A good selection that showcases the best local estates, and some big names from further afield.

    Service
    While Cristiana cooks up a storm, the ever-affable Gianni is out front keeping tabs on diners. A personal touch that makes all the difference.

    Ambience
    The small eatery, attached to La Sosta guesthouse, is a homely yet elegant space, but the best tables are out on the veranda overlooking the delightful garden.

    And...
    With just 20 seats, it’s essential to book a table in advance. (RH, October 2011)

User reviews

  • Italian husband and wife pair cooking Italian cuisine with a modern twist in the heart of Swellendam. What more can I say?

    The food was amazing, mostly because the chef cooks out of passion and not obligation. A brief description of what I ordered,
    Primo, Gnocchi and Springbok ragu. Secondo, Duck with pomegranate sauce on carrot mash Dessert, Traditional Tiramisu.

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  • Hospitality News South Africa | Hotel Jobs, Cape Town | Hospitality, Johannesburg | Hospitality

    […] Country-Style Restaurant: Café Bloom Best Italian Restaurant: La Sosta Best Steakhouse: The Local Grill (Parktown […]
  • This 16 cover restaurant is a true gem and has all the right ingredients which come together to create a special evening. The interior is contemporary – sophisticated yet relaxed, the lovely tables are well-spaced and well-appointed. Enthusiastic and charming service is owner-driven (by Gianni). The menu is seasonally focused and monthly changing with quality ingredients deftly handled by Cristiana, allowing the true flavours to shine. Portions are spot on, letting diners sample excellent antipasti, primi, secondi and dessert courses. Lovely calamari, bresoala, quail, gemsbok, beef, lamb, lobster were some of the items on offer, but I particularly enjoyed the ravioli of prawns accompanied by an intense lobster sauce and also the beautifully light, rosemary infused gnocchi. The coffee is also excellent.
    The relatively brief wine list contains some gems from the Breede River Valley region (such as De Wetshof, Arendsig, Konigsrivier, Bon Courage) listing vintages and short tasting notes. Given the quality of everything, prices are excellent value and some of the wines exceptionally so (e.g. De Wetshof The Site Chardonnay at R189 when the Cellar Door price is around R135.)
    The restaurant is only open for dinner and for nine months of the year, as passionate Gianni and Cristiana return to Milan and the rest of Italy to keep abreast of Italian food trends and home cooking skills. Advance booking essential!
    Surely a candidate for Best Country Restaurant or Best Italian Restaurant!

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  • Hospitality News South Africa | Hotel Jobs, Cape Town | Hospitality, Johannesburg | Hospitality

    […] Country-Style Restaurant: Café Bloom Best Italian Restaurant: La Sosta Best Steakhouse: The Local Grill (Parktown […]
  • When Gianni and Christiana left Italy a few years ago, a gift arrived in Swellendam... Flavour- bursting, innovative Italian dishes. A menu that changes every month. Personal attention by the owners themselves and well-trained staff. Well designed, intimate space for maximum 20 guests. One of the Western Cape's best kept secrets.

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  • Hospitality News South Africa | Hotel Jobs, Cape Town | Hospitality, Johannesburg | Hospitality

    […] Country-Style Restaurant: Café Bloom Best Italian Restaurant: La Sosta Best Steakhouse: The Local Grill (Parktown […]
  • Gorgeous little Italian restaurant in Swellendam. Best authentic Italian restaurant I have ever eaten at! Good wine list celebrating the local wine region. Attentive and genuine staff and five star service! They deserve to be named a top restaurant!

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  • Hospitality News South Africa | Hotel Jobs, Cape Town | Hospitality, Johannesburg | Hospitality

    […] Country-Style Restaurant: Café Bloom Best Italian Restaurant: La Sosta Best Steakhouse: The Local Grill (Parktown […]
  • No comments can do it justice! Eating at La Sosta means to be screened in gustatory experience beyond all expectations. Italian cooking enhances the flavor like no other, and every night Christiana performs miracles. The balance of flavors and tastes, the focus in the combinations, and presentations of the dishes are something amazing. The atmosphere is cosy, elegant and discreet. Gianni is attentive to your demands and the service is impeccable. The wine list is excellent. Passion, love and identity are the watchwords to describe this restaurant.
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  • Hospitality News South Africa | Hotel Jobs, Cape Town | Hospitality, Johannesburg | Hospitality

    […] Country-Style Restaurant: Café Bloom Best Italian Restaurant: La Sosta Best Steakhouse: The Local Grill (Parktown […]

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Accommodation
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Dress code
  • Fireplace
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • StreetSmart affliated
  • WiFi

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