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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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.
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.
Very friendly but a warning to those who want to have a speedy meal: the service can be a touch on the slow side.
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.
Fresh tuna and even sea urchin are often available so be sure to ask about the specials before deciding on your order.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.