Unlike our Top 10 – which are selected by a panel of judges – the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries are voted for by Eat Out readers. To find the winners, we calculated the highest average ratings on Eat Out from 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015 – that’s a full year of reviews and star ratings. And Il Leone Mastrantonio in Green Point won the award for the best Italian eatery in Cape Town. Eat Out critic Raphaella Frame-Tolmie enjoyed a meal there to find out why Capetonians keep going back for more.
Italian food the way it’s meant to be – simple, fresh and tasty – is what you’ll find at this popular Green Point spot. Those in the know will aim straight for the carpaccio di pesca (fish carpaccio), especially when tuna is available. It’s tissue-paper-thin, drizzled with good olive oil and scattered with capers and rocket. If it’s not on the list, the beef alternative is equally tasty. Other antipasti include bruschetta with different toppings, melanzane alla Parmigiana, and simply moreish mussels in white wine with garlic and tomato.
Pastas are divided into “corta” and “lunga” (short and long. Whichever you choose, they are served properly al dente with sauces so good you’ll want to lick the plate. Try the penne gamberetti (baby prawns in a creamy tomato-based sauce with garlic and chilli) or bucatini alla carbonara, which is rich, creamy and delicious. If you’re dining true Italian style, you also might want to order fish or meat, of which there is a fair selection, including classic dishes such as piccata di vitello (lemony veal escalopes).
A good combination of local and Italian varietals make up the extensive wine list, and if you find the imported wines a little on the pricey side, you’ll easily find something to suit your pocket and taste closer to home.
You’ll receive professional attention. The waiters are all well rehearsed in the specials of the day as well as anything that might not be available.
The simple interior allows for a relaxed feel, and warm lighting creates an inviting atmosphere. There are no frills, but it’s sophisticated.
Many of the artworks that adorn the walls are for sale, so if you’re feeling flush after your meal you can take home anything that catches your eye.
Here are some of the reviews which helped Il Leone win the top prize:
Wonderful dinner last night. Fantastic food, great service and wonderful atmosphere. We will definitely be back soon. – Caroline Bayly
One of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town. Romantic, classy atmosphere and food of a high standard. – Willem van Beurden
My first time there and I loved it. Will be back! – Annie Lemon
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read the editorial policy here.