Venues

Magica Roma

Magica Roma
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Cost
R120 avg main meal
Ambience
Authentic culture, Comfy & casual
Food
Italian, Pizzas, Seafood
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500
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Critic's review

Raphaella Frame-Tolmie

Food
A Cape Town institution famed for old-school, authentic Italian fare, this is the spot if you're in the mood for something really retro. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sentimental reasons, and the food is good too – though arguably not as consistent as it once was. For starters, the tuna carpaccio is popular, but the calamari dishes are tasty and a better option. The creamy polenta with blue cheese is very rich and possibly better shared, unless you have a very healthy appetite.

If the usual pizza and pasta suspects don’t take your fancy, try the panzerotti veal with ricotta, creamy Parmesan and sage sauce, it’s one of the best things on the menu. There is veal in various guises: the scalloppine di vitello isacco is a perennial favourite (veal with lemon, white wine, mushrooms and sage).

Desserts include the likes of tiramisu and semi freddo, or go for an affogato of ice cream in coffee if you have a little space left.

Drinks
An extensive wine list includes Italian varieties as well as a good local selection, and there are over 30 different types of grappa on offer too.

Service
Polite and professional, waiters explain daily specials with ease, and you’ll often see the owners working the floor, checking up on patrons.

Ambience
Almost always full, this ever-popular suburban establishment's interior is steeped in nostalgia. While the atmosphere is pretty relaxed, it works for business meetings, romantic dinners for two and even family gatherings.

And…
Be careful not to knock over any of the wines lined up around the restaurant – they include some very special vintages!

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

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  • Raphaella Frame-Tolmie

    Food 

    A Cape Town institution, famed for old-school, authentic Italian fare, Magica Roma is the spot for something really retro. It’s a crowd pleaser for sentimental reasons, and the food is good too – although arguably not as consistent as it once was.

    For starters, the tuna carpaccio is popular, but the calamari dishes are tasty and might be a better option. The creamy polenta with blue cheese is very rich and possibly best shared, unless you have a very healthy appetite.

    If the usual pizza and pasta suspects don’t pique your fancy, try the panzerotti veal with ricotta, creamy parmesan and sage sauce – it’s one of the best things on the menu. There’s veal in various guises; the scaloppine di vitello isacco (veal with lemon, white wine, mushrooms and sage) is a perennial favourite. Desserts include the likes of tiramisu and semi freddo, or go for an affogato if you don’t have too much space left.

    Drinks
    An extensive wine list includes Italian varieties and a good local selection, plus over 30 different types of grappa.

    Service 

    Service is polite and professional. Waiters explain daily specials with ease, and you’ll often see the owners working the floor and checking up on patrons.

    Ambience
    This ever-popular suburban establishment is almost always full. Magica Roma’s interior is steeped in nostalgia and the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. It works equally well for business meetings, romantic dinners for two, and family gatherings.

    And… 

    Be careful not to knock over any of the wines lined up around the restaurant – they include some very special vintages!

    (July 2016)

  • Graham Howe

    Food 
    Consistency is the keyword at Magica Roma, which keeps rolling decade after decade. Expect robust flavours from a refreshingly authentic Italian menu with all the old standards prepared to old family recipes. Generations of regulars come here to enjoy signature dishes such as tuna carpaccio, vongole (mussel and clam chowder), pepperoni in bagna càuda, polenta and an A-Z of pasta and pizza oven-baked done al forno style. The Italian owners could never do away with old-school standards such as snails in garlic butter, sole meuniere, saltimbocca and tagliata fiorentina (sliced fillet in olive oil, balsamic and herbs). Veal is a specialty.

    All the dishes are made from top-quality ingredients, from the Parma ham and salami to the meats and seafood. The sauces are big – with lashings of cream, garlic, chilli and tomato in mama’s kitchen – and the portions generous. Make sure you leave room for the desserts, Italian house specialties like panna cotta, tiramisu, spumone (ice cream layered with meringue, drizzled with hot chocolate sauce) and semifreddo (chilled mocha and chocolate mousse). Once the magic casts its spell, you’ll join the legion of fans that adore this longstanding Italiano ristorante.

    Drinks 
    Besides a good selection of Cape and Italian wines for every pocket, you’ll find the legendary grappa trolley, which offers some thirty varieties.

    Service 
    Customers can look forward to inimitable Italian hospitality from the moment you step in the door to advice on the day’s specials. Put yourself in your hosts’ hands and let them order for you.

    Ambience 
    This old-school trattoria is a suburban landmark for authentic Italian food. It’s relaxed setting works for both business meetings or family gatherings, and it’s lively day and night.

    And…
    Choices, choices. While you’re making up your mind, share an antipasti platter with a cheese and garlic focaccia at the table.

    (July 2014)

  • Food
    Traditional Italian fare at its best. This restaurant has a reputation for consistency and reliability, serving superb tuna or beef carpaccio, pepperoni in bagna càuda with anchovies and garlic. Mushrooms with cheese and garlic, straight from the pizza oven, feature prominently here. There are almost twenty each of great pizzas and pastas, as well as a variety of fish, meat and chicken dishes. The tiramisu will please any sweet tooth.

    Wine
    A very good list, featuring many of the best Cape wines and some Italian options.

    Service
    Friendly and comfortable, with the owners keeping their eye on everyone.

    Ambience
    Very much an indoor place: cosy in winter and very buzzy with conversation. A long-time Cape Town favourite. Popular for business lunches when a real deal has to be made.

    And...
    They close in December (cheeky!) so they can go to Italy and see la familia. (GL, October 2011)
  • Kate Wilson

    This place is like the Goodfellas, Moonstruck and Big Night of restaurants. The food is simple and rustic, but loaded with flavour. Their veal dishes are great; ensure you try their homemade pastas with creamy sauces and fried veal. But it’s what’s not on the menu that’s worth asking for: the crumbed veal chop. (Eat Out magazine 2014)

User reviews

  • Simply the best! Incredible, authentic Italian food, with awesome hospitality from the owners. Highly recommended if you are in the mood for Italian food.
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  • This old-school gem hasn't lost a bit of it's charm. Tucked away in an underwhelming shopping square, the doors of Magica Roma open to reveal an energetic, vibey, bustle - packed with adoring regulars and teaming with the warmth and aroma of Italy. The service was fantastic, only outdone by the exquisite food. Each plate simple, traditional and authentically Italian. Just a delight to experience. The wine list is predominantly Italian, but a decent handful of local labels have been selected. Pricing is very reasonable, considering the generous portions. Highly recommended for all ages and parties of any size, to anyone looking for an unpretentious, soul-nourishing plate of happiness.
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  • This place was highly recommended to us by friends who live in Pinelands, and it didn't disappoint. We went on an anniversary date and had pizza and pasta. Both absolutely delicious. We had a lovely female waitress serving us, who was on the ball and very knowledgable about the menu and the wine list. The owner is always walking around to see that everyone is happy, even if he is a little abrupt. We had crème brûlée for dessert, which blew my mind. We're saving the next trip there for our next anniversary. What a special place!
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  • I've been eating at Magica Roma for as long as I've lived in the Western Cape, which is going on 25 years. I've always loved the casual, relaxed atmosphere, the simple, good food and the personal attention of the owners. Very sadly, something seems to have gotten lost since the last time I ate there. We were a party of 8 and not one of us had what anyone could call a "delicious" meal. The plating was careless and uninspired - not even a lemon wedge on the fish plate. Just a couple of pieces of skinny swordfish, horribly over-cooked with an unappetising mess of pasta. The snail and polenta starter looked awful and didn't taste much better. My pasta Vongole was under-seasoned and tasteless. The service was painfully slow and indifferent - we waited almost an hour from being seated before placing an order and had to ask 3 times for olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the bread. Everything just lacked any kind of care or attention to detail. What a sadness, really, as dining here used to be a charming, warm and lovely experience.
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  • A friend told me to visit Magica Roma as the food there is good. As I'm from Gauteng on a business trip I thought I'd pay them a visit. On my arrival at 17:25 the doors was closed, I tried to enter but saw that it was still locked. The manager/owner saw me and just looked at me, I then thought maybe I just did not try to open the door with enough force. I then tried for a 2nd time, the manager/owner still just looking at me then just signalled that they were closed. He did not even bother to get up to tell me that they only open at 18:00 (I googled to find the opening times). I would have gladly waited the extra few minutes, I ended up having steers...
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  • I had an amazing night! A warm welcome at reception and we got a very nice table with warm ambience! The service was quick and friendly. The food was so delicous I just wanted to try all of it! They even gave me a special birthday sparkle with my dessert! I highly recommend this beautiful gem to all!
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  • Probably one of the worst meals we have had at any restaurant in years - all 9 of us agree. Sub-par, badly presented, very bland taste, poor all round.
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  • 4 friends had the most fantastic dinner (starters and mains)! We then proceeded to review the dessert menu. Only 2 ordered dessert, but we all 4 ordered espresso's and a drambuie on the side. To our dismay, the drambuie was very light in colour (not the usual golden honey colour), and it tasted alot like Sambuca. We called the chef. His initial reaction was this the drink tasted like Sambuca (we did not preempt him). He then went to fetch the bottle from which the drink had been poured from. One of our friends stated that she used to own a restaurant, and knew about staff mixing or diluting drinnks, and that we were all very sure this was not Drambuie - perhaps it was being mixed with something else?! The chef called us "argumentative", shouted at the waitrees to remove the drinks from the bill. We never wanted a free-bee - just wanted to warn management. It left us all feeling very disappointed.

    My advice.. great meal! But don't even think about complaining!
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  • We had dinner at Magica Roma last night - celebration of my in-law’s anniversary – party of four.
    This must be one of the most consistently excellent restaurants I’ve ever experienced. Food and service was top-notch and the ambience is superb. Our waitron was always readily available, but never in our space.

    Back soon.
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  • Oh yeah baby. Bring mama her pasta
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  • We (a party of 9) had dinner at Magica Roma on Saturday 20th April. We were seated and about 10 - 15 minutes later we saw the waitron for the first time that evening - our orders were taken and we were given the run down of the specials which the waitron knew very little about. Our meals arrived - cold. 3 guests ordered chicken which was very dry and very unappetizing - just 3 small "nuggets" on a plate and that was it. My husband ordered pasta and a side bowl of chips - the chicken eaters all ordered chips with their meal, when the food arrived accompanied by a small bowl of chips we enquired about the other plates and was told all the chips were put (3 meals) altogether in this small bowl - 4 orders and 1 small bowl of chips which included the side order. A very disappointing dining experience and we will certainly not be back - corkage was R40 more than the actual wine cost - and this bowl of chips (R45.00) not worth the money at all - the pasta was cold and miserable. Very very disappointing.

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  • I challenge you to resist the specials when the owner describes roasted vegetables and calamari - fantastic! Real Italian accents, delicious food, bustling atmosphere! An old fashioned restaurant! Loved it!

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  • Magica Roma in Pinelands Cape Town is still the top Italian restaurant around. Owners management and staff are very friendly. The food is superb and not too heavy on the pocket. The wine list caters for all.

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  • Ezio organised an amazing lunch for my hubby's 60th birthday, roast suckling pig in the pizza oven - everyone raved - food and service outstanding - Thanks to Ezio and his very capable team.

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  • Excellent food and delicious wines. The restaurant is a bit out of the city centre, but worth the trip. Very personalised service.
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  • A hidden gem. This has got to be one of Cape Towns best-kept secrets. Simple, honest, classic food with great, well-prepared ingredients make for a memorable meal. Add an excellent winelist and good atmosphere and it means that you will be back here more than once.
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  • Watching Justin Bonellos Cooked programme inspired us to try this restaurant. And we were not disappointed. Never have I seen a restaurant this busy on a Tuesday lunch time!! We met Franco (the owner) and explained why we were visiting. He asked what we liked/ didnt like, to which he replied Dont worry, Ill make you something. Ordinarily, I would have been fearful, but we went with it. The antipasto platter was delicious - Parma ham, grilled asparagus, calamari and a delicious tricolor salad. We could have stopped there - portion was plenty and had a little taste of everything. But, wanting to try everything, I ordered the Spaghetti Vongole which came with tiny clams and the most delicate sauce I have tasted. Again, Franco offered to make something and presented us with a beautifully cooked fillet (in a secret sauce). As busy as they were, the service was efficient and friendly. The waiters know their food and their wine and could make recommendations with conviction. Excellent meal - well be back!
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  • My absolutely favourite restaurant in the whole world! Cant say enough good things about it. Except I cant always get a reservation. We all love it so much.
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  • One of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town. Quality Italian food and service at a reasonable price = excellent value. Almost all their dishes are fantastic. Always full so make sure you make a reservation.
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  • Food and service outstanding!Little cramped seating wise.Loved every moment!
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  • The food was amazing...dont miss the antipasto!! after dessert, ask Eccio, one of the owners, to prepare a Don Pedro for you! delicious!
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  • Yet another outstanding meal at one of our favourite restaurants in Cape Town. The specialty starter of grilled calamari and vegetable carpaccio with balsamic is always a winner, but the real treat was the Pasta Boscaiola - heaven on a plate. The flavours took us straight back to our recent trip to Italy - only they were better in Pinelands than in Rome! Great value for money too, and friendly but unobtrusive service.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair

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