Venues

Old Town Italy (Umhlanga Rocks)

Old Town Italy (Umhlanga Rocks)
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Cost
R100
Ambience
Comfy & casual, Family friendly
Food
Italian
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Nicola Jenvey

Food
This space is neither a restaurant nor a deli nor a market. It is an eclectic combination of the three that works both cohesively and independently. A destination venue, Old Town Italy is billed as an authentic Italian market where you can shop, talk, eat and learn.

The Café Italiano is the heart of this experience, sourcing its foods from the accompanying deli, thus ensuring the freshest premium quality product on the table.

Both the extensive breakfast and lunch menus are wholly composed of seasonal ingredients available in-store. The Italian titles add to the charm with l’ovo sapiens or il bosco verde, sounding more romantic than free-range eggs with streaky bacon, oven-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and artisanal bread or free-range poached eggs with creamed mushroom and sautéed spinach.

Other breakfast feasts include Sebastian’s sausage patty, home-made in the butchery and topped with poached eggs and tomato and served with home-made orange ginger marmalade; waffles from the in-store gelato station served with amarena cherry ice-cream; or buttery croissants either plain or with homemade jam and cheese, chocolate-filled, custard-filled, almond-flavoured or accompanied by bacon and cheese.

Lunch offers a mouthwatering array of antipasti, from mozzarella con prosciutto to pepperoni classici (grilled yellow and red peppers marinated in extra-virgin olive oil) or the daily focaccia special.

Pastas, hand-made in-house, are served as the traditional introduction to a main meal or a light finish to antipasti, and are another expression of classic Italian cuisine. Innovative salads further capture the essence of fresh ingredients like kale chicken Caesar or Norwegian salmon Niçoise.

Mains can be either a buffet-style from the deli or à la carte, like succulent lemon-caper chicken or 300g rib-eye steak prepared Fiorentina style, with crushed salt and pepper, herbs and olive oil. Seafood includes grilled Patagonian calamari or fritto misto, a decadent bowl of batter-fried calamari, prawns, mussels, zucchini and mushrooms.

Drinks
Complementing the food is an outstanding selection of classic cocktails, natural beverages, artisanal beers and a glimpse into fine Italian spirits, liqueurs and wines. No local wines are available, so this is the opportunity to branch into new horizons. Speciality teas and coffees as well as freshly-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices are also available.

Service
Attentive, interactive and refreshingly different, the service, whether in the café or throughout the store, adds to the ambience and experience.

Ambience
This is an experience of a traditional Italian market square with the bonus of being modern, convenient and chic. It provides otherworldly charm in the midst of the newly established light industrial/commercial space of new-town Umhlanga.

And…
Don’t leave without perusing the cheese, charcuterie and artisanal bakery counters or indulging in a box of Italian hand-made chocolates or gelato.

(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
    With Old Town Italy, Renzo Scribante (the man behind the Remo’s chain) has created a Durban gourmet landmark. With this eatery, they’ve gone back to time-honoured traditions and cuisine. No modern interpretations, just classic Italian food made as it should be. Baptise your palate with an antipasti platter that can be made up from extensive range of cured meats and imported cheeses, or delve right into fairly simple pasta options with the likes of pappardelle bolognese, lasagne and tagliatelle with creamy mushroom sauce and truffle oil. Other lunchtime offerings segue from deep-fried baby calamari with zucchini and mushrooms with chilli tomato sauce to burgers on homemade buns. Breakfasts are also an occasion here. An alluring array of cornetti beckons, but resisting hot dishes is futile… A standout is the Milanese, which features artisan bread topped with salami Milano, Napoletana sauce, fresh basil, poached eggs and shavings of grana padano. For dessert, wander over to the gelato station to order a waffle and ice cream for breakfast.

    Drinks
    Once again, it’s all about authenticity. Unsurprisingly, there is a selection of good coffees and speciality teas; milkshakes blended from imported Fabri artisan ice cream; freshly extracted juices made to order; and imported soft drinks. Craft beers, wines and bubblies are all are exclusively Italian.

    Service
    The staff complement is impressive in terms of quantity and quality. Waiters are dedicated to tables, but there’s a friendly overlap, which means that there’s always a pleasant smile and willing hand. The staff are well versed on the intricacies of the menu and management is hands on, including owner Renzo, who can be spotted happily slicing cured meat in the butchery.

    Ambience
    Old Town Italy is a cleverly curated space that captures the essence of that country. There’s great attention to detail – from the bakery with its overflowing bread baskets to beautiful merchandise and wood-fired ovens.

    And…
    No reservations are taken, so be prepared to wait for a table. Take your shopping list with you as you can stock up on just about anything your foodie heart desires.

    (September 2015)

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    With Old Town Italy, Renzo Scribante (the man behind the Remo’s chain) has created a Durban gourmet landmark. With this eatery, they’ve gone back to time-honoured traditions and cuisine. No modern interpretations, just classic Italian food made as it should be. Baptise your palate with an antipasti platter that can be made up from extensive range of cured meats and imported cheeses, or delve right into fairly simple pasta options with the likes of pappardelle bolognese, lasagne and tagliatelle with creamy mushroom sauce and truffle oil. Other lunchtime offerings segue from deep-fried baby calamari with zucchini and mushrooms with chilli tomato sauce to burgers on homemade buns. Breakfasts are also an occasion here. An alluring array of cornetti beckons, but resisting hot dishes is futile… A standout is the Milanese, which features artisan bread topped with salami Milano, Napoletana sauce, fresh basil, poached eggs and shavings of grana padano. For dessert, wander over to the gelato station to order a waffle and ice cream for breakfast.

    Drinks
    Once again, it’s all about authenticity. Unsurprisingly, there is a selection of good coffees and speciality teas; milkshakes blended from imported Fabri artisan ice cream; freshly extracted juices made to order; and imported soft drinks. Craft beers, wines and bubblies are all are exclusively Italian.

    Service
    The staff complement is impressive in terms of quantity and quality. Waiters are dedicated to tables, but there’s a friendly overlap, which means that there’s always a pleasant smile and willing hand. The staff are well versed on the intricacies of the menu and management is hands on, including owner Renzo, who can be spotted happily slicing cured meat in the butchery.

    Ambience
    Old Town Italy is a cleverly curated space that captures the essence of that country. There’s great attention to detail – from the bakery with its overflowing bread baskets to beautiful merchandise and wood-fired ovens.

    And…
    No reservations are taken, so be prepared to wait for a table. Take your shopping list with you as you can stock up on just about anything your foodie heart desires.

  • Tracy Gielink

    It is deeply rewarding to watch people arrive at Old Town for the first time. As they step through the doors, conversation evaporates and they momentarily pause to take in the magnitude of this restaurant and deli. A smile slowly starts to spread and, at that point, it’s obvious that Renzo Scribante (the man behind the Remo’s chain) has created a Durban gourmet landmark.

    Food
    They have not reinvented the wheel. And, quite honestly, what would be point of that? Old Town Italy has gone back to time-honoured traditions and cuisine. No modern interpretations, just classic Italian food made as it should be. Some of the menu items – free-range rotisserie chicken, meatballs braised with lentils, and exemplary focaccia – are also sold through the deli area, so a foraging expedition may help the uninitiated decide what to order.

    Baptise your palate with an antipasti platter that can be made up from extensive range of cured meats and imported cheeses, or delve right into fairly simple pasta options with the likes of pappardelle bolognese, lasagne and tagliatelle with creamy mushroom sauce and truffle oil. Other lunchtime offerings segue from deep-fried baby calamari with zucchini and mushrooms with chilli tomato sauce to burgers on homemade buns.

    Breakfasts are also an occasion here. An alluring array of cornetti beckons, but resisting hot dishes is futile… The rich and flavourful Il Bosco Rosso sees your choice of bread topped with streaky bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and seasoned avo. Another standout is the Milanese, which features artisan bread topped with salami Milano, Napoletana sauce, fresh basil, poached eggs and shavings of grana padano. The rustic and robust flavours work well together, although the sauce was disappointing in that it was more like a purée and the basil that would have countered with a lovely freshness didn’t make it on to the plate. The delicious platter with parma ham, avo, marinated olives, roasted peppers, fontal cheese, sundried tomato pesto and bread is perfect for leisurely grazing. Otherwise, feel deliciously childlike and wander over to the gelato station to order a waffle and ice cream for breakfast.

    Drinks
    Once again, it’s all about authenticity. Unsurprisingly, there is a selection of good coffees (cappuccinos are sometimes a little cold but quickly replaced) and speciality teas; milkshakes blended from imported Fabri artisan ice cream; freshly extracted juices made to order; and imported soft drinks that are naturally flavoured and free of artificial colourants and preservatives. Craft beers, wines and bubblies are all are exclusively Italian.

    Service
    The staff complement is impressive in terms of quantity and quality. The sizeable floor space has a suitably large and effective team, with all members strikingly turned out in custom-made uniforms including T-shirts emblazoned with “Make bread, not war”. Waiters are dedicated to tables, but there’s a friendly overlap, which means that there’s always a pleasant smile and willing hand. The staff are well versed on the intricacies of the menu and management is hands on, including owner Renzo, who can be spotted happily slicing cured meat in the butchery.

    Ambience
    Forget Tuscan office parks and other cringeworthy interpretations of Italian décor and design. Old Town Italy is a cleverly curated space that captures the essence of that country. This is about attention to detail to the extreme – from the bakery with its overflowing bread baskets to beautiful merchandise and wood-fired ovens. Seating is divided into four distinct areas: tables cushioned between the bakery, salumeria, butchery and cheese counter (just try to walk away empty handed!); counter seating around the bar area; an inside dining area with sun-drenched tables; and outside tables reminiscent of pavement dining in Europe.

    And…
    No reservations are taken, so be prepared to wait for a table. Take your shopping list with you as you can stock up on just about anything your foodie heart desires.

    (June 2015)

User reviews

  • A beautiful, busy, gorgeous breathe of fresh Italian air. Such a stunning place to unwind and enjoy the gorgeous delicacies of Italy
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  • This is a recent find that has sky rocketed to the top of the list of places I love to go for a bite to eat. If you're mad about a strong cup of coffee, this is worth a pit stop. When the coffee is served strong, I usually deviate from adding milk / foam / cream of any kind - their Americano's are superb. The menu is extensive - from a wide variety of breakfast options, delicious pasta and out of the box sandwiches to fit your mood. If you've just stopped in for a quick cup of coffee, make sure you stop by their ice cream section on the way out and get a scoop of their incredible Gelato. Their flavours change often, but you can usually expect something on the plainer side and then something more unusual like cherry or watermelon. Old Town is only open until 4pm, so you'll have to plan your visit for breakfast or lunch. It can also be super packed on the weekends, so if you don't want to wait for a table, pull yourself out of bed to be there when the doors crack open at 7am.
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  • Old Town Italy is a superb extension of the excellent restaurant group of Remo's in Umhlanga Rocks. Our meal was perfect and in spite of pouring rain, (which meant no-one could sit outside), the restaurant was packed, service good and the vibe intoxicating. We will be back often.
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  • We tried this restaurant on recommendation from friends, the location is excellent. The look of the restaurant is gorgeous and lots of attention has been paid to details. The restaurant is busy and I imagine spending an afternoon there with girlfriends trying out all their starters and having wine, this is the perfect place to do this. It feels like you have escaped Natal when you visit this restaurant, the atmosphere and decor are outstanding. We first sat outside and had drinks. I had an ice tea and husband had cuppachino. The ice tea is imported and amazing, the cuppachino is amazing, but very small. On this day it was quite cold and the wind quite strong, we put our names down to move inside. We didn't wait long at all. Once inside the excellent service we experienced outside was completely gone. We were completely ignored and waited forever for a waitron to assist. We also couldn't get anybody's attention. It seems as though they are understaffed inside. Their food is fresh and amazing and their deserts are to die for. We tried their milkshakes and these too were amazing! Will definitely try this restaurant again as a snack and socialising experience, this time outside.
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  • This new Remo’s off-shoot and another Scribante innovation shows promise of what is to come I think. In the words of Sol Kersner’s famous saying ‘Location, Location, Location’ it kind of falls short [however when Sol built Sun City in the bush folks thought he had lost his marbles!] Situated on a street housing motor dealers and the like it is hardly a destination you would seek out. But then again if you want very authentic Italian delicacies, albeit at a price Old Town Italy is the place to go. We have been there twice and on both occasions it has been bustling with the ‘right’ crowd who want to be seen a new spot. The first occasion was to look and see on a Sunday morning and purchase a couple of items not easily obtainable elsewhere. The ambiance was great but the service was non-existent – give it time! The second occasion was to meet my daughter for coffee and a snack after work. I wasn’t too impressed with the flavours but again it is early days. Both occasions were enlightening but to be fair I need to sit and order a proper meal and linger a little longer. On the down side on the second occasion the road seems to be a favourite with boy racers proving their ‘Fast n Furious’ skills or not but with the horrendous sound effects! Be careful if you have to cross the road.
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  • I have eaten in restaurants all over the world with many pleasant experiences. It is a shame that Old Town which looks really wonderful doesn't have the food or service to match. A perfectly good Sunday 14-06-2015 was ruined by a late lunch here. We ordered the bruschetta and foccacia. The former were mere morsels of food with not a hint of the flavour Italian food is famous for. The foccacia looked and tasted like 2 day old pizza. Our server looked completely out of his depth, disappearing for lengths of time and literally looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Who trains these people? I can't even grace the service and food with a star. You have a great concept, so train your staff and put your back into it and make it authentic Italian! P.S. I had to put in 1 star in protest as the review could not be submitted otherwise Dr Pari Govender
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  • I love this place! Services glitches happen, especially new restaurants, but contrary to some reviews they are clearly making an effort. We had a server and a table cleaner for our table and serviettes were changed three times! I can't recall better service anywhere. Most places don't even come close. The atmosphere is great! Read more about it on my blog: http://nowthinkaboutit.com/2015/06/old-town-italy-review-umhlanga-gateway/
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  • I have eaten there twice in 10 days (Breakfast & a lunch) Both times the experiences were almost identical: NOT GOOD. The service was shocking: non-existent but lots of cool looking waitrons / hosts / bussers all running around doing pretty much nothing. On both occasions food that we ordered was not delivered...at all...even after we asked....twice!! For what you get, I think the food is overpriced: increase the portion size and charge more or offer small med or large size portions, priced accordingly. While so-called managers are quick to apologize ( I suppose it must be habit by now), nothing gets remedied, and you can't put it all down to opening pains, sooner or later you better get it right or close up shop!
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  • I visited the Restuarant last Tuesday afternoon after not being able to get a table the Saturday before . I must admit the ambience is great , but this is the last time that I visit this Restuarant , the service by my waitress was disgusting , one of my guests ordered a fruit juice , When it arrived on the table the juice spilled and the piece of apple that was supposed to have been on the glass fell on to the table , the waitress just picked up the apple and left the juice , I found this unprofessional , she should have apologised and taken the juice back to the kitchen and wiped the glass and put another piece of apple as a garnish . The Restuarant was fairly quite as it was about 3:40 in the afternoon there was about 5 tables occupied , yet we waited more than an hour for our food which nothing complicated but just similar to pitta , our waiter never came to our table during that time despite me enquiring about our food , the only response I got was '' I'm just the host , I'll get the manageress to assist '' - she never came . When the food did come , I can only say that my guests did comment that we would have been better off at a fast food burger joint , every one of us wasted our meals My other guests were from Europe and when they were asked by your hostess how was their meal , they replied that they will not be visiting your Restuarant again and meal was not up to standard , still your manager/manageress did not even make an appearance. The place is vibey , it's great , but unfortunately there are better places out there for professional , friendly service and good food .
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  • Every morning for a week now I have been driving pass to get to work, I have seen the waiters having meetings outside and they all looked so vibey and friendly so I made plans with my work colleagues to go there last Friday. I should have continued driving pass because the service we had was actually not what we expected. So we sat outside and it as getting chilly, so we asked the waitress to please get a table inside, but she didn't really try to accommodate us, eventually after sitting there having a cup on coffee to get a bit warm I noticed a table inside that was vacant, so I went to sit there while waiting for my friends to come inside, I was approached by a female waitress telling me I cant sit there by as if she was talking to her child. she said the table was reserved for someone that was waiting there for some time and they going to come sit at the table now, so I got up and went back outside.....only to find out, that table was empty until we ate out meals and left. I'm not sure if it was a Race thing that made them react to us in that manner, it certainly offended me and hurt my feeling to get such poor service from a place that really caught my eye. I have been to many restaurants in Durban and no place has ever treated me and spoke to me in this manner. The place is extremely beautiful and everything is so eye catching I really thought I have found my new happy place...., but I will have to keep on searching for that place.
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  • My happy place, Old Town Italy // A tavola non si invecchia
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Beer served
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

Stores and Markets

Owner:

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 7am to 7pm

With a mission and vision to restore the community's faith in family markets, Old Town Italy is well on their way. Apart from creating delicious Italian dishes, you can now find and purchase fresh baked breads, pastries, craft beers, wines, fresh vegetables, cheese and even fresh meat at their butcher shop.

Store categories
Markets

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