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Mastrantonio

Mastrantonio
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Cost
R140 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Italian
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Rupesh Kassen

Food
What a joy it is to dine at such a wonderful, easygoing establishment where the food is so comforting! Mastrantonio’s menu never disappoints. You can tell by the packed restaurant, filled with businesspeople and regulars. Tucked away in the top of a small Illovo shopping center, this hidden gem serves food that never ceases to tantalise the palate. Every item on the menu is inspired by classical Italian roots, using only the freshest ingredients. These include tender pasta pockets of panzerotti stuffed with roasted butternut and served with your choice of sauce; hand-rolled gnocchi with classic Napolitano sauce; and crispy squid heads and porcini (when in season), sautéed in butter and herbs.

Perfectly prepared risottos are a testimony to the exceptional skills of the establishment; the delicate saffron-and-prawn version should not be missed. For meat lovers, the crumbed veal chops or classic Florentine steak (prime rib), topped with herbs and garlic, is just mouthwatering.

Traditional desserts are a perfect ending to the experience. Try classic tiramisu or profiteroles filled with custard and topped with a hot-chocolate sauce – all made in-house and totally delicious.

Drinks
The wine list is of a reasonable size, with a suitable selection of local and international red and white wines within most budgets. There’s also a good selection of beers and spirits.

Service
Staff on the floor are always kind, friendly and helpful. They move around with great efficiency and purpose. Managers and owners are ever-present, ensuring you have a seamless experience. Booking is recommended.

Ambience
The cosy restaurant has an authentic trattoria feel, with black-and-white pictures dotting the walls, crisp white tablecloths and well-appointed cutlery.

And…
If you're curious about the workings of a professional kitchen, walk past the floor-to-ceiling windows running along an entire wall of Mastrantonio’s kitchen, and watch the chefs do their thing.

(September 2016)

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  • Hennie Fisher

    Food
    Anyone with some curiosity about the workings of a professional kitchen can walk past the floor to ceiling windows running along an entire wall of Mastrantonio’s kitchen and watch the chefs doing their thing in the immaculate kitchen. Once inside, be sure to order a starter of crunchy, deep-fried squid heads in a quirky, retro brown paper cone. The Melanzane alla Parmigiana, served piping hot straight from the oven in an old-fashioned oval dish, further enforces the claim that good ingredients need the minimum intervention to be at their very best. A smartly constructed mozzarella roulade – a modern interpretation of a Caprese salad – presents tomato, rocket and avocado, rolled in sheets of mozzarella and sliced. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a classic prime rib steak grilled – to perfection – with rosemary. A penne dish of tomato and vodka makes one yearn for more, and for those on a low-carb or no-carb regime, they offer a dish of linguine cut from fresh zucchini, served with a simple tomato sauce. Those who love good meat should not forego the rack of veal, cut into small, beautifully Frenched cutlets. To end a superb Italian meal on a traditional note, do not forego the profiteroles, panna cotta with berries or tiramisu. Mastrantonio has tapped into the huge market providing high-end food in the corporate environment. However one wants to view this development within the hospitality industry, this is one of the best examples of good old fashioned continental hospitality, and people that know how to entertain guests and make them feel that every cent spent there is worth it.

    Drinks
    One would expect no less from such a high end Italian restaurant than two full pages filled with speciality Italian wines organised by region or province. In addition, there is a varied selection of single varietal wines from South Africa, including a few traditional Italian varietals made by SA wineries such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo or Barbera. And for those who enjoy a cappuccino after the evening meal, they are as perfect as one would find them anywhere in Italy.

    Service
    The bread basket, containing a selection of delicious breads baked on the premises (an amazing rosemary crisp bread that is tasty, flavoursome and thin as paper; ciabatta and olive bread) arrives at the table swiftly after arrival. Service at this branch of the Mastrantonio brand is confident, elegant and delivered with no-nonsense professionalism. Waiters are able to give details about the specials of the day as if they were personally in charge of the development and preparation of the dishes. Here the attitude is that one arrives as a customer, but leaves as a friend.

    Ambience
    As Mastrantonio is one of a number of high-end businesses in a relatively small centre, it is no wonder that there is a round table topped with a fresh flower arrangement in the passage leading to the parking lot, and elegant white canvas blinds provide protection from the sun during the day. The restaurant is divided into various areas, some slightly more formal and a bit more private than others, while there is a large informal area at the entrance, flanked by shelves filed with Italian products. Pale cream walls and a few period black-and-white photos in black frames further sets the tone for a suitably smart but never stuffy restaurant.

    And…
    They encourage patrons to take a stroll into their walk-in wine cellar to investigate wines not on the wine list. – Hennie Fisher

  • Hennie Fisher

    Food 
    Do not expect standard Italian café food here. A rack of lamb is brought to the table on a white oval plate, looking like the lambs were purposely sourced to fit the size of the plate – about eight or ten neatly trimmed tiny rib bones with a perfectly cooked round of loin attached, served with beautifully prepared vegetables. (The seasonal selection may include beans, carrots and baby beetroot.)

    A clear chicken broth, tortellini in brodo, takes 30 minutes to prepare; one should therefore be prepared to relax and enjoy a meal here to experience the authenticity. Other menu options include beef carpaccio, prosciutto and melon, and a fish carpaccio prepared from the fresh line-fish of the day and served with avocado, red onion and a vinaigrette.

    Another dish that comes with a slight twist is the most amazing buffalo mozzarella – as fresh as if it was made a few hours ago in some Italian village and served au naturel with a few leaves, cocktail tomatoes and some avocado. Melanzane alla parmigiana – that lovely traditional warm eggplant starter – is done to utter perfection. Of course, there's a range of pastas and risottos (the saffron and prawn seems particularly popular) and a whole range of great Italian salads: Caprese, panzanella, fantasia and rustica, to name a few.

    For dessert one would be hard pressed to find a better crème brûlée in Johannesburg, but other options include Italian crêpes or perhaps something slightly healthier – strawberries in port sauce.

    Drinks 
    There's an expertly compiled and extremely well priced wine list, obviously aimed at encouraging patrons to enjoy the evening and share more than one bottle of wine. Represented producers include Babylonstoren, Villiera, De Morgenzon, Nitida and Pecan Stream. There are a few international bottles thrown into the mix, as well as some super examples of wines made here in South Africa from Italian varietals, such as Idiom’s Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera.

    Service
    Mduduzi Ndlovu, who greets everyone with a hearty ‘buona sera’ on arrival, and his service team make everything they do seem effortless. They deal as efficiently and faultlessly with a packed restaurant as they would if there were only two people dining. Water and bread appears almost as soon as you’ve been seated – the breadbasket containing beautiful dense olive bread, some ciabatta, totally addictive rosemary crisp-bread, and a little pot of butter covered with a round of greaseproof paper.

    Ambience
    The restaurant is located on the first floor of the Illovo Square Centre and overlooks a central courtyard surrounded by high-end shops. The interior is elegantly simple with soft cream walls and a few Italian décor items. Quality dining-room furniture, terracotta floor tiles, smart crockery, starched napery and a general air of sophistication make for a very ‘grown-up’ restaurant.

    There is a slightly more informal section adjoining the bar counter, but altogether the ambience is gracious. If you park at the back of the restaurant, you’re bound to catch a glimpse into the kitchen through the floor to ceiling glass windows/doors. It’s not many establishments that will have their kitchen open for such public scrutiny. It is a regimentally tidy, spotlessly clean and organised environment that any patron should feel totally happy to eat from.

    And… 
    This is one of those well-known secrets (despite its 18 years in business), the whereabouts of which the who’s who of Johannesburg’s business and social sets will hold close to their chests. It’s a convivial restaurant that, even though it probably seats 80+ people, manages to feel smart and still allows for some privacy. The space fills up quickly but service remains gracious and amicable.

    (August 2014)

  • Authentic Italian cuisine served with flair. Opt for a daily special, pasta with prawns and tomato or fresh porcini with herbs, garlic and wine. (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    This was the first restaurant to be opened by the group and continues to draw customers who want authentic, consistently good Italian cuisine served with style and flair. It offers a range of pastas and beef and veal dishes, but you would do well to see what is seasonal and therefore a special of the day, from porcini simply pan-fried with herbs, garlic and a smidgeon of wine to roasted artichokes.

    Wine
    Expect an impressive collection that includes some Italian fare. There’s a small and pricey selection by the glass.

    Service
    Paulo and the owners are hands-on and make recommendations on what to eat. You would do well to take their advice.

    Ambience
    Welcoming with well-spaced tables.

    And...
    Save room for some dessert washed down with a Frangelico on crushed on ice. (JW, October 2012)

User reviews

  • I have been to this restaurant regularly over the last 10 year, but the last year or so, I've seen a disappointing decline in the quality of food and service. Food is prepared without the care and refinement of the past. My starter of asparagus was served with a hard blob of melted Parmesan which added very little in look or flavor to the (well-prepared) asparagus . The Tortellini in Brodo was bland... and unappetizing in its presentation with cloudy broth, and coarsely chopped carrots and chicken, that would have benefited from just a small sprinkling of something green. Service was perfunctory and rushed... with plates being cleared before all diners had finished. I want to believe that the quality can improve... but it might be a while before we go back.
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  • HAVNT BEEN THERE FOR A LONG TIME. LAST NIGHT WAS A DISGRACE. THE WAITRESS KEPT HARASSING US TAKING PLATES AWAY AND TRYING TO CLEAR THE TABLE BEFORE WE WERE FINISHED. THEY SEEMED TO BE IN A HURRY TO CLOSE. THERE DIDNT SEEM TO BE ANYONE IN CHARGE. THE STRANGEST PART WE ORDER 2 PASTA DISHES. THEY ARRIVED IN ABOUT 5 MINUTES OF ORDERING.!! NOT GOOD OBVIOUSLY WARMED UP PASTA AND THOSE PORCINI MUSHROOMS WERE DEFINITELY NOT PORCINI. THE SAUCE WAS TASTELESS OBVIOUSLY OPENED A TIN OF MUSHROOMS AND THREW SOME CREAM IN.....WINE PRICES ARE OUTRAGEOUS. BUT THE WORST WAS THE WAITRESS WHO KEPT TRYING TO CLEAR AWAY...I WOULDNT GO BACK THERE AND WOULDNT RECOMMEND IT
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  • Lovely night out, fantastic waiter, good wine and delicious food. Exactly what we needed. We had a fantastic evening and will certainly be back.
    Gnocchi Arrabiata is particularly good, especially with a glass of Rupert&Rothschild Classique.
    Thank you Mastrantonio!
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  • We must have caught them on an off night. The tiramisu, which according to the menu is their house specialty, was a complete disappointment. Their pasta (which was not boiled in salt water) was nothing more than acceptable; however one would expect more from a restaurant with their supposedly respectable reputation for fine dining. Hope I'm proven wrong in the future.
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  • A great Italian treat. A must visit.

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  • We have been struggling for the last year to find a good restaurant in Johannesburg. We were gifted the Rossouw's restaurants guide 2012, so decided to give Mastrantonio a tr y- it has a 2 and a half star out of 3 rating.
    I have one word - outstanding! We were greeted by the very friendly and happy staff. From start to finish it was an absolute pleasure. We had the two specials, Alaskan Crab Linguini & Grilled veal chop, they were delicious, tasty, served with a dash of speed. We savoured the flavours with smiles on our dials.

    To finish off the meal, we did the dessert tester, might I just add, my husband is a serious food fundi and crit. The Creme Brulee was perfecto!

    Thank you so much for restoring our faith in eating out again. We recommend you to everyone!

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  • This restaurant is very good on value I think the portions are a little lean but quality is excellent. The atmosphere is romantic and cosy - great on a winter’s night. My only complaint is that we were charged R75 each for our Cognacs - which is rather a lot. Normally if you do not have a standard you should advise client. The XO was not available so we were served the VSOP which is more expensive. Overall a great venue.
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  • By far the best food in the whole of the country from there pastas to the coffee you cannot get better value and quality my best by a distance
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  • We went there for Valentines and we had a fabulous time, the food was really great.
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  • Have been to this excellent ristoranti for a meal at all times of the day. Each time was pure ecstacy and the cappuchino to top it all of at the end is the best in Jozi! Try the wild muschrooms if in stock!
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Facilities

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

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