Café del Sol at Steyn City offers comfort and tradition executed with contemporary flair


It has been almost a year since Café del Sol at Steyn City opened at Steyn City’s City Centre. Overlooking the cobbled piazza, dotted with sculptures from the nearby gallery that shares the square with a selection of new stores, it’s as if this, the third iteration of this Johannesburg culinary landmark, was always meant to be here. It makes perfect sense that its unique brand of Northern Italian-inspired cuisine should find a home here.

CAFE DEL SOL AT STEYN CITYCafé del Sol’s urban home

City Centre at Steyn City offers a sophisticated urban living concept within the broader parkland setting of Steyn City’s luxury resort-style estate. Conceptualised as a contemporary hilltop town with a central park and pedestrianised streets, City Centre introduces a unique urban offering unlike anything else in South Africa. Ideal for lock-up-and-go pied-à-terre as it is for family-sized apartments or designer penthouses, Steyn City’s City Centre has all the charisma of a classic hilltop village environment with the security, convenience and infrastructure of an ultra-modern city.

A legacy of community

The place in a community that an Italian restaurant would occupy in a village or small town is re-enabled by this environment, and is perfectly occupied by Café del Sol: a traditional concept executed with contemporary flair. Most importantly, just as Steyn City has an idea of family and community at its heart, and enables a lifestyle where there is time to enjoy these precious things, Café del Sol is the very embodiment of the restaurant at the core of a community where family and friends come together.

Since the Treccani family ‒ Mama Luciana and her son Ryan Viljoen and daughter Chiara ‒ opened the original Café del Sol in Olivedale 17 years ago, now known as Café del Sol Classico and located in Blueberry Square in Honeydew, Café del Sol has been the very embodiment of the authentic community restaurant.

It occupies a special place on the Johannesburg culinary landscape. It’s the kind of restaurant where, as Chiara puts it, regulars return over and over again. It becomes a home from home. Even when they promise themselves that they’ll order something new off the menu, they return to old favourites, she says. Whenever she and Ryan have tried to update the menu, they’ve been forced by popular demand to bring back their specialities.

From Café del Sol Classico, the neighbourhood restaurant that is the city’s best-kept secret, to the big, busy, bustling urban institution that is Bryanston’s Café del Sol Botanico, with its botanical-themed urban oasis-inspired interiors, Café del Sol belongs to families and communities.

Steyn City’s City Centre allowed them to realise that identity and those values once again in a new context. The idea, as Chiara says, of being able to walk to the restaurant from your house or apartment and watch your children play on the piazza while you sit at a sidewalk café table proved to be “a game-changer”. How could they resist?

Experience the ambience

City Centre at Steyn City enables all the positive aspects of urban life with none of the drawbacks. “It’s just so peaceful,” says Chiara. There’s none of the traffic and noise. It’s a perfectly secure environment. “You’re safe, your kids are safe,” she says. There are beautiful views of the parkland surrounds. Café del Sol could be more itself here than ever.

Chiara notes that while Ryan has had the opportunity to introduce his beloved Neapolitan-style pizzas ‒ with gorgeous crusts that realise the perfect combination of crispiness and springiness ‒ Café del Sol’s most beloved dishes are reprised on the Steyn City menu. It still includes the signature recipes such as the stuffed calamari, lamb rack, porcini risotto and, of course, the renowned selection of pastas and sauces. With a setting like the piazza, who could resist an Aperol Spritz? A cocktail menu and wine list provide the perfect excuse to linger and enjoy the ambience.

Deli offering

The setting at Steyn City has opened up other new possibilities for the Café del Sol family to share some of the very best produce and ingredients from their kitchen. Café del Sol Steyn City includes a deli stocked with, as Chiara puts it, “Some of our favourite things to cook with.”

From the very basics, like imported Italian flour, pasta and tinned tomatoes, there are also cold meats, specialist cheeses, olives and a selection of pasta sauces and soups that make it possible to take a little bit of Café del Sol home with you, or take it to friends and family as a gift.

Embracing Italian tradition: the heart of Café del Sol

Chiara says that Café del Sol’s approach belongs to an Italian tradition in which everything hinges on how food makes you feel. Of course, it’s about the freshness and the flavour, but ultimately, “Italians are all about eating to feel good,” she says.

The quality of ingredients, the attention to detail, the love and passion for cooking and hospitality all culminate in a feeling of satisfaction, vitality and wellbeing synonymous with the place of the Italian village restaurant in the life of the community.

As Chiara says, in a hilltop town in Italy, a meal would often end with a stroll around the village or through the countryside. That’s not commonly available in local cities. But at Steyn City, it is. Beyond the pedestrian streets of Steyn City’s City Centre, the network of paths (promenade) along the creek and parkland allows residents to do exactly that. It’s a kind of dining and a lifestyle that belong together, perfectly complementing each other at Steyn City.

Café del Sol at Steyn City is open for bookings from the public, and is not exclusive to residents of Steyn City, adding a new culinary destination to the “new north”.

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