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Pesce Azzurro

Pesce Azzurro
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Cost
R150
Ambience
Comfy & casual, Family friendly, Local cuisine, Quick meals
Food
Bistro fare, Italian, Mediterranean, Tapas
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R60

Critic's review

John Maytham

Food

Pesce Azzuro is Italian for ‘blue fish’. That’s the category that we South Africans refer to as ‘oily fish’, and it contains fish like sardines, anchovies, tuna and swordfish – although one wouldn’t want to see the latter too often on the menu, as it’s listed ‘orange’ on the SASSI index.

The menu at this cosy neighbourhood Italian eatery is dominated by fishy choices. Yes, there are meat options like sirloin and lamb, and primi piatti such as gnocchi di ricotta and pasta carbonara, but eschew those and dive into the ocean.

Start with a plate of five tapas – there is a list on a blackboard, but the five that arrive on your plate are chosen by the chef based on what fresh fish is available on the day. On our visit, it was kabeljou served three ways – delicious and lightly spiced fish balls in a rich tomato sauce, cubed and cooked with a white bean salad, and filigree thin carpaccio. The octopus and potato salad is a regular, and very tasty with interesting texture contrasts, and the aubergine caponata highlights the smoky taste of this veg superbly.

The spaghetti scoglio is the dish most often re-ordered on repeat visits, and it’s easy to see why. A huge mound of perfectly al dente spaghetti groans under the weight of a maritime mélange of calamari, mussels, clams and prawns in a yummy tomato sauce with just the right hint of chilli. Kabeljou made a return as a main – grilled to perfection and served with chips that would tempt even Prof Noakes.

For the sweet of tooth, Grandma’s tiramisu or panna cotta are reliable ways of ending the meal.

Drinks

The wine list is basic and without much imagination, but there is sufficient choice to match most dishes on the menu satisfactorily. There are also some Italian wines available.

Service

Perfectly efficient and charming on the night.

Ambience

It’s like being beside the Mediterranean or Adriatic without a hint of kitsch. Whitewashed wood tables with an eclectic mix of chairs, a bare brick wall and sea-themed paintings all add up to a relaxed and cosy space to enjoy an evening out.

And…

I am always encouraged when I enter a restaurant serving regional food and the place is full of the accents of the region. This is an Italian restaurant where Italians love to eat.

(August 2017)

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

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Nikita Buxton

    Food
    The food here celebrates the ocean. The dishes are simple with unassuming yet fresh flavours and are prepared with love. The Mediterranean starters boast options like mussels in a fragrant broth of white, prawn and line fish ceviche or hearty seafood soup. We opt to kick off the meal with the fresh tuna carpaccio, which is beautiful in its simplicity. The glass-thin tuna is humbly dressed with olive oil, salt flakes and lemon – it’s perfection. The caprese salad with soft mozzarella, sweet confit cherry tomatoes and a salty hit of capers is another great option for a light start.

    For mains, try the generous spaghetti scoglio (described as the showstopper on the menu) tossed with a generous amount of calamari, plump prawns, octopus, mussels and clams. If you’re a seafood lover, this is definitely a winner and the simple garnish of chilli and herbs adds a pleasant touch to the delicate flavours. Other top picks include the hake cooked in a Siciliana-style tomato sauce with olives and fresh mint, or a perfectly satisfying plate of light and crispy deep-fried prawns and calamari with a side of chips and lemon wedges.

    If you’re not a seafood fan, the ultra-decadent carbonara is a must: served with chunks of crisp guanciale (Italian cured pork cheeks) and a silky egg yolk and pecorino sauce.

    The flavours at Pesce Azzurro are fresh and uncomplicated so if your palate is big on the punch, order a side of fresh chilli and extra lemon wedges to amp up the meal.

    If you’re up for a dessert, go for the smooth panna cotta or creamy tiramisu, as the chocolate fondant’s delivery is a little underwhelming.

    Drinks
    The wine list is fairly small but has some great local and Italian choices that work well with the seafood – there’s even prosecco for those special occasions.

    Service
    Very friendly but a warning to those who want to have a speedy meal: the service can be a touch on the slow side.

    Ambience
    A calming blue exterior houses a space filled with sea-themed accents and white-washed wood furniture. It’s a welcoming and relaxing space for a midweek supper that transports you to the Sicilian seaside.

    And…
    Fresh tuna and even sea urchin are often available so be sure to ask about the specials before deciding on your order.

    (September 2016)

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

  • Jeanne Calitz

    Food
    The eatery’s name is the collective term for a range of red meat fish. That should also give you an indication of the menu – there’s a lot of fish to be had. The ubiquitous grilled hake and roasted line fish you usually find at seafood restaurants feature here in the form of hake in a tomato-based sauce with garlic and capers, and monkfish served with porcini mushrooms. Given the origins of the owners – Andrea is from Tuscany and Giuseppe is from Sicily – it’s clear why the focus falls so strongly on the fruits of the ocean, as well as simple but well-prepared ingredients. To get the meal started, I opt for the mussels in a fragrant broth of white wine, garlic and chilli, while my partner chooses the special of the day: tuna carpaccio. The latter is dressed with only a quick toss of olive oil. Fresh as can be, it is brimming with flavour, and bodes well for the rest of the meal. And things do indeed proceed swimmingly from there: I stand amazed at the wealth of seafood that accompanies my spaghetti scoglio – calamari, prawns, octopus and mussels and clams – while my husband is highly appreciative of the robust flavours of his spinach fettucini with fish ragu. We sign off with a deliciously light and creamy tiramisu to share, and the firm resolve to dine here again very soon, in order to try the rest of that wonderfully fishy menu.

    Drinks
    They offer a small but terrific wine list. There are a couple of Italian bottles on offer, including a prosecco and chianti, but the rest of the menu delights with excellent locals like Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc and Springfield Work of Time.

    Service
    Service matches the vibe: it’s friendly and welcoming, but not overly fussy.

    Ambience
    The eatery’s charming sky-blue exterior is hard to miss, and you can’t help but smile at the merry sight of it. Inside, simple blonde wood furniture is matched with touches of blue décor and ocean-themed artworks. Ample lighting casts a welcoming glow through the big glass-fronted windows. The tables might be a touch close to each other, but it all adds to the communal atmosphere.

    And…
    Though it feels like a friendly neighbourhood eatery, it should be noted that the prices are a bit higher than your average local – but then so is the quality of the food.

    (September 2015)

  • Jeanne Calitz

    Food
    The eatery’s name is the collective term for a range of red meat fish. That should also give you an indication of the menu – there’s a lot of fish to be had. The ubiquitous grilled hake and roasted line fish you usually find at seafood restaurants feature here in the form of hake in a tomato-based sauce with garlic and capers, and monkfish served with porcini mushrooms. Given the origins of the owners – Andrea is from Tuscany and Giuseppe is from Sicily – it’s clear why the focus falls so strongly on the fruits of the ocean, as well as simple but well-prepared ingredients. To get the meal started, I opt for the mussels in a fragrant broth of white wine, garlic and chilli, while my partner chooses the special of the day: tuna carpaccio. The latter is dressed with only a quick toss of olive oil. Fresh as can be, it is brimming with flavour, and bodes well for the rest of the meal. And things do indeed proceed swimmingly from there: I stand amazed at the wealth of seafood that accompanies my spaghetti scoglio – calamari, prawns, octopus and mussels and clams – while my husband is highly appreciative of the robust flavours of his spinach fettucini with fish ragu. We sign off with a deliciously light and creamy tiramisu to share, and the firm resolve to dine here again very soon, in order to try the rest of that wonderfully fishy menu.

    Drinks
    They offer a small but terrific wine list. There are a couple of Italian bottles on offer, including a prosecco and chianti, but the rest of the menu delights with excellent locals like Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc and Springfield Work of Time.

    Service
    Service matches the vibe: it’s friendly and welcoming, but not overly fussy.

    Ambience
    The eatery’s charming sky-blue exterior is hard to miss, and you can’t help but smile at the merry sight of it. Inside, simple blonde wood furniture is matched with touches of blue décor and ocean-themed artworks. Ample lighting casts a welcoming glow through the big glass-fronted windows. The tables might be a touch close to each other, but it all adds to the communal atmosphere.

    And …
    Though it feels like a friendly neighbourhood eatery, it should be noted that the prices are a bit higher than your average local – but then so is the quality of the food. – Jeanne Calitz

  • Jeanne Calitz

    It’s taken quite a while for a restaurant to really find its groove in this location on the corner of Roodebloem and Palmerston in Woodstock. First there was the original, much-loved Don Pedro, followed by the flamboyant Don Pedro and all his beautiful wives, followed briefly by MS Stone, followed by the (sadly) short-lived Al Cantra, and now finally we’ve got Pesce Azzurro.

    The latter has been open for a couple of months and seems to be drawing good crowds nightly, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for this incarnation. The food alone should do the job, because Pesce is dishing up some really great seafood. But the vibe is also part of the attraction: the feel is of a warm, friendly local where everyone is welcome. (The prices, it may be noted, are higher than that of a neighbourhood joint, but then so is the quality of the food.)

    Food 
    The eatery’s name is the collective term for a range of red meat fish. That should also give you an indication of the menu – there’s a lot of fish to be had. The ubiquitous grilled hake and roasted line fish you usually find at seafood restaurants feature here in the form of hake in a tomato-based sauce with garlic and capers, and monkfish served with porcini mushrooms.

    Given the origins of the owners – Andrea is from Tuscany and Giuseppe is from Sicily – it’s clear why the focus falls so strongly on the fruits of the ocean, as well as simple but well-prepared ingredients. To get the meal started, I opt for the mussels in a fragrant broth of white wine, garlic and chilli, while my partner chooses the special of the day: tuna carpaccio. The latter is dressed with only a quick toss of olive oil. Fresh as can be, it is brimming with flavour, and bodes well for the rest of the meal. And things do indeed proceed swimmingly from there: I stand amazed at the wealth of seafood that accompanies my spaghetti scoglio – calamari, prawns, octopus and mussels and clams – while my husband is highly appreciative of the robust flavours of his spinach fettucini with fish ragu. We sign off with a deliciously light and creamy tiramisu to share, and the firm resolve to dine here again very soon, in order to try the rest of that wonderfully fishy menu.

    Drinks
    They offer a small but terrific wine list. There are a couple of Italian bottles on offer, including a prosecco and chianti, but the rest of the menu delights with excellent locals like Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc and Springfield Work of Time. 

<h2> Service
Service matches the vibe: it’s friendly and welcoming, but not overly fussy. In any case, a formal and overly solicitous attitude would seem out of place here.

    Ambience
    
It feels like the first time in ages that someone got the décor right for what has in the past proved to be a difficult space, by turns too dark and dingy or too bright and echoing. The eatery’s charming sky-blue exterior is hard to miss, and you can’t help but smile at the merry sight of it. Inside, simple blonde wood furniture is matched with touches of blue décor and ocean-themed artworks. Ample lighting casts a welcoming glow through the big glass-fronted windows. The tables might be a touch close to each other, but it all adds to the communal atmosphere.

    The verdict
    Finally, a restaurant for 113 Roodebloem that may pass the test of time! If they keep on serving delicious, authentic food like this, we will be dining there as often as the budget obliges.

User reviews

  • We were a table of 7. Two people got their food the rest waited an extra 30 minutes. When my pasta came it was undercooked. Chef is arrogant and zero customer service!!Refused to listen. I then waited half an hour and a waiter then comes and says chef refuses to make the dish for me. Huh?? When I confront him he says too bad, he has worked hard all day and my dish was fine. Seriously!? Why didn’t he tell me that up front?? And he is wrong. A couple of us tasted it and it was raw and completely different to another dish of the same. Will never go there again! They don’t understand customer service at all.
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    • Service
    • Food
  • A friend invited me to join her for supper at Pesce Azurro a week ago with the comment "don't hold it against me if it's a disaster", which prompted me to google some reviews. Well, forewarned is forearmed, and I'm happy to say that we walked in saying "buona sera" with an attitude of acceptance, and we had a lovely evening. They must also be doing something right to have a full restaurant on a cold Monday evening in winter in Cape Town, without any "winter special". Or maybe the negative reviews have made them up their game a bit. Wanting just a relatively quick meal, we didn't try any of the starters although we wondered if we should have ordered something to keep us going if the service turned out to be as slow as some patrons have reported. Thankfully, despite the number of other guests there was no unreasonable delay. Disappointingly the homemade pasta was not interchangeable for the pasta in other dishes on the menu, but the reviews had somewhat forewarned us that the chef might have an uncompromising attitude. Nonetheless our waitress sweetly told us that if it were up to her she would arrange it. My friend tried in vain to get homemade pasta instead of chips with her Calamari alla Griglia, and rather reluctantly settled for grilled vegetables instead; these turned out to be an excellent choice: nicely grilled slices of aubergine, peppers and squash, beautifully presented and garnished. I was perfectly satisfied with my Spaghetti Scoglio, (although I would have loved homemade pasta!!) which was palatable enough for those who are scared off by too much chilli. Unfortunately, the cannoli was unavailable for dessert that night (and not on the website menu at time of writing) so we decided to share a portion of tiramisu, described as Grandma's recipe; after the high standard of the meal, we found this disappointing; it was a smallish portion served in a whisky-sized glass, and the flavour was a bit insipid. However the coffees were good. We will definitely return for a repeat visit, and I look forward to trying the cannoli next time.
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    • Food
  • I feel I'm misleading you, placing 4 stars for food, so let me clarify that the food we received was good. A main dish not being served led to the conclusion it wasn't put through with the other mains. Fine. What was unacceptable was the waiter returning several minutes later, re - asking what was ordered. This, coupled with evident conflict between 2 of the 3 waiters that served us, plus having to ask several times for drinks top ups, requesting salt and pepper for the table etc led to us asking to see the manager. All the issues experienced prior to this pale in comparison to the abhorrent treatment we received. We were subjected to a tirade by Giuseppe (owner. "Manager") who shouted at us for daring to complain. Worst customer service I've ever experienced. No patience to hear what the problem was, no effort in finding a solution. Needless to say we left with a sour taste in our mouths. Don't risk spoiling what could be a pleasant evening. It's clear that we're not the only one who experienced his unreasonable reaction.
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  • Food was superb! Not overly spiced; delicately flavoured; could taste all the ingredients. Relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere. Dog-friendly outdoor seating, attentive waitrons and overall good service. Two thumbs up
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Beer served
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Dog-friendly
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Wheelchair

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