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Marco Paulo

Marco Paulo
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Cost
R120
Ambience
Contemporary cool, Hip & happening
Food
Bistro fare, Italian, Mediterranean
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Nicola Jenvey

Food
The food is stylishly presented with funky twists on the original: a pizza shaped like a baguette; snails served in three different fashions; and a bruschetta plate topped with the likes of black-olive tapenade; gorgonzola, roasted tomato and brinjal; cannellini beans, lemon and oregano; Parma ham and rocket; and Italian tomatoes and oregano.

Equally enticing are the pizzas, such as the Mafiosa (salami, onion, peppers and chilli), Mozambican (chilli chicken and baby tomatoes), Thai shrimp (ginger, chillies and fresh coriander) and Bianca (smoked salmon, spring onions, avocado and capers).

Signature pasta dishes like spaghetti gamberi with prawns, olive oil, chilli, garlic, lemon zest and rocket or wild mushroom fettuccini with porcini and portebellini, chilli, parsley and mushroom jus compete with succulent beef fillet and creamy risottos boasting additions like rosemary, bacon, baby peas, slow-roasted feta and tomatoes or gorgonzola, baby spinach, pecan nuts and slow-roasted tomatoes. All portions are very generous.

If space still allows, desserts are freshly prepared and available on request.

Drinks
The wine list embraces balance. The mark-ups are reasonable on both the expensive and the cheaper options, while the wide range incorporates both well-known and smaller niche wineries for a cross-section of South Africa’s wine heritage. Non-alcoholic beverages include fresh fruit juices.

Service
Efficient, informed staff ensure a seamless dining experience.

Ambience
The frameless glass frontage and the cluster of casual sofas at the entrance welcome customers to an inviting space that takes full advantage of Durban’s temperate weather. The warm wooden and glass décor, coupled with the glass-fronted kitchen, expands the concept of sophisticated simplicity.

And…
The website landing page states Marco Paulo is conscious of what it feeds customers and thus believes in using fresh herbs, hormone-free meat and poultry, organic produce and real butter in preparing food whenever possible. They quip it might cost more, but saves customers on medical bills. They also adhere to the Slow Food Movement and celebrate a sophistication of simplicity. The outcome is a resounding success, delivering on their promises.

(September 2016)

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Owners Paul Shepherd and Billy Franks are as passionate about eating as they are about feeding people. They subscribe to the principles of the slow food movement and are particular about the suppliers they use. The Mediterranean aspect is inspiring rather than prescriptive and can be seen with dishes like brinjal three ways (risotto cake, bruschetta and Parmigiano); gorgonzola and apple pizza; and risotto with rosemary, bacon, baby peas and slow roasted baby tomatoes. It is entirely possible to never order off the menu as there are always irresistible specials on offer like pasta with prawns, chorizo and tossed with tomato sauce or, if you are lucky, slow cooked suckling pig.

    Drinks
    The wine list is a personal representation of what the owners like to drink and which local wines they feel best match their food. It offers a succinct but thoughtful selection for each varietal.

    Service
    Hands-on owners are more than just a presence; they work as hard and fast as they expect their staff to whether it’s in the kitchen or front of house. A casual air belies the strict service principles that ensure everything happens seamlessly from making a reservation to topping up wine glasses and the kitchen’s quick turnaround time.

    Ambience
    The understated setting exudes a heartfelt warmth. A small lounge area allows for pre- or post-dinner contemplation, while tables occupy a glassed-in area alongside the car park or sneak peaks into the kitchen. Think parquet floors, leather chairs and simple table settings.

    And…
    There is a light lunch time menu that features fantastic sandwiches or order smaller portions of pasta.

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Owners Paul Shepherd and Billy Franks are as passionate about eating as they are about feeding people. They subscribe to the principles of the slow food movement and are particular about the suppliers they use. The Mediterranean aspect is inspiring rather than prescriptive and can be seen with dishes like brinjal three ways (risotto cake, bruschetta and Parmigiano); gorgonzola and apple pizza; and risotto with rosemary, bacon, baby peas and slow roasted baby tomatoes. It is entirely possible to never order off the menu as there are always irresistible specials on offer like pasta with prawns, chorizo and tossed with tomato sauce or, if you are lucky, slow cooked suckling pig.

    Drinks
    The wine list is a personal representation of what the owners like to drink and which local wines they feel best match their food. It offers a succinct but thoughtful selection for each varietal.

    Service
    Hands-on owners are more than just a presence; they work as hard and fast as they expect their staff to whether it’s in the kitchen or front of house. A casual air belies the strict service principles that ensure everything happens seamlessly from making a reservation to topping up wine glasses and the kitchen’s quick turnaround time.

    Ambience
    The understated setting exudes a heartfelt warmth. A small lounge area allows for pre- or post-dinner contemplation, while tables occupy a glassed-in area alongside the car park or sneak peaks into the kitchen. Think parquet floors, leather chairs and simple table settings.

    And…
    There is a light lunch time menu that features fantastic sandwiches or order smaller portions of pasta.

    (August 2015)

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Owners Paul Shepard and Billy Franks serve the type of food they like to eat: it’s honest, flavourful and, at times, pleasingly old fashioned. Everything is made from scratch under Paul’s watchful eye and he loves the challenge of using less fashionable cuts like hangar steak or pork neck. If you enjoy these rustic dishes, you’ll do well to order off the specials board. The standard menu shows Italian roots with dishes like the supplì (risotto balls); aubergine done three ways, or assorted bruschetta. The various risotti are always crowd-pleasers and non-Mediterranean signature dishes include the crispy phyllo prawns and deboned Mozambique baby chicken.

    Drinks
    A personal, hand-picked compilation of South African wines extends from instantly recognisable to thought-provoking options. Particular attention has been paid to wines that suit the food and this is also reflected in the by-the-glass selection.

    Service
    The waiters appear relaxed, but the service is spot-on and the high standard is maintained from arrival through to settling the bill. All etiquette and subtleties are observed.

    Ambience
    Despite drawing on visitors to the adjacent exclusive golfing estate and having a serious reputation, the restaurant is endearingly down-to-earth, with an animated atmosphere. The glass front overlooks the car park and glass windows at the back of the restaurant allow glimpses into the industrious kitchen. Worn leather chairs on the verandah constitute a communal chill-out spot between dishes, or allow for a post-dinner whiskey.

    And…
    Suckling pig can be pre-arranged on request.

    (July 2014)

  • Visit for bistro food, passionate owners and reliable consistency. Great for a Friday/Saturday night vibe. Watch the specials board, or order deboned oxtail with gnocchi and suckling pig (on request). (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    Pizzas are gourmet – gorgonzola, apple and bacon, or shrimp, chilli, ginger and coriander – and pastas are the signature dish – think spaghetti, olives and bacon with breadcrumbs and lemon zest, or homemade Italian sausage and tomato cream. But it is the perfect risottos that get such fulsome praise; the shrimp, lemon zest, rocket and chilli is a perennial favourite. Mains include a variety of steaks, a pork saltimbocca, a red chicken curry and more. Owners Paul Sheppard and Brenton Franks celebrate good wholesome cooking and exceptional value.

    Wine
    A tight first-class list. Winemakers get pride of place with their photos on the walls.

    Service
    Thoroughly professional, yet warm. You’ll be greeted like an old friend.

    Ambience
    The bright colours, stylish glass and cherrywood tables and old Persian carpets give this buzzing little bistro a decidedly stylish feel.

    And...
    The sandwich menu is available with a baguette or low-GI bread, while the lunch menu includes lighter fare and half portions of pasta or risotto. (FC, October 2012)

User reviews

  • Really great vibe at this restaurant. Great service and great food.
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  • We had some of the best good ever there
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  • Dinner on 12 January was great with a very good menu and excellent specials. Service was attentive. Great beer served with a limited wine menu but worth a visit.

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  • If you book in advance, Paul will prepare a suckling pig for the table (about 8 diners). Outstanding dish, exceptionally tasty and tender! Highly recommended.

     

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  • Durban's best kept secret. If you like Cafe 99, this is your thing. Great service, distinguished food. Highly recommended.

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  • Excellent food and great service. The specials change on a regular basis and are top class with some very interesting dishes (28 day aged sirloin steak served with roast marrow bone; 8 hour roasted shoulder of pork etc).Food and wine prices are very reasonable.One of the top restaurants in KZN
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  • Great lunch time menu. 5 star food at very reasonable prices, complimented by excellent service and trendy vibe.
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  • Wow, Durban needs more like this.
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  • The flavours in the food were all so extraordinary. Most unexpected. Delicous.
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Facilities

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

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