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.
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.
Perfectly efficient and charming on the night.
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.
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.
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