9 must-try Italian restaurants in the Winelands and the Overberg

Make sure to fend off the slowly encroaching cold with these fantastic Italian meals in the Cape winelands and the Overberg.

95 at Morgenster (Somerset West) 

95 at Morgenster serves authentic Italian cuisine using fresh ingredients. Start with an avocado salad with rocket, cherry tomato, fresh pear, pecan nuts, blue cheese with Morgenster olive oil and fresh lemon juice dressing. Highlights from the mains include the burrata caponata – a simple tomato-based caponata with pine nuts, aubergines, olives and peppers, served alongside a perfect ball of burrata; tagliatella frutti di mare featuring homemade pasta, a delicate tomato sauce and an abundance of seafood; and the slow-cooked lamb ravioli served with sage brown butter sauce. Desserts options include tiramisu, an Italian play on Eton mess, seasonal homemade gelatos and the iconic chocolate fondant.

Available for online bookings on the Eat Out app.

95@Morgenster Pasta

A pasta dish from 95 at Morgenster. Photo supplied.

Asta La Pasta Restaurant (Stellenbosch)

Run by father-and-son duo Roberto and Nicol Bottello, this restaurant is the real deal when it comes to simple, authentic Italian fare. The menu features classic starters like panzanella, carpaccio and bruschetta. Highlights include thin-based pizzas baked in a wood-fired pizza oven, creating deliciously crunchy charred edges; or dishes from the specials board like the spaghetti with clams or the Mafiosa with tagliatelle – a simple yet punchy combination of garlic, capers, chilli, anchovies and onions. Finish off the meal with a chocolate salame, an affogato or the tiramisu.

A salad prepared and served at Asta La Pasta

A healthy and colourful meal from Asta La Pasta. Photo supplied.

Caffe Mario (Knysna)

This cafe, situated at the popular and picturesque Knysna Waterfront, serves authentic old-school Italian favourites, like al dente pastas and crispy crust pizzas. Expect classic pasta sauces, like the alfredo with ham and cream, as well as inspired combinations like the aurora with broccoli and gorgonzola. There’s also the simple fish of the day grilled in olive oil; beef medallions in black pepper sauce; tasty salads like the Mediterranean with gorgonzola and rocket; and the standout melt-in-your-mouth tiramisu dessert.

Ice Dream Land (Plettenberg Bay)

Marco Mauri – an Italian cheese and gelato-maker of note – and his family open their farm for lunches featuring his authentic Italian products. Expect divine pizzas topped with Marco’s melty mozzarella, homemade cheeses, cured meats and a freshly-picked leafy salad of the day. Sundays are for mama’s homely North Italian meals, like the pizzoccherie – a buckwheat pasta with potatoes, cheese, spinach, sage butter, vitello tonnato, slices of cold veal dressed with tuna-flavoured mayonnaise; or crispy breaded veal cutlets and house-made tagliatelle with salmon and cream. End off with gelato in fabulous Italian flavours like tiramisu and pistachio.

Idiom Fine Dining Restaurant (Somerset West)

The food at Idiom is a contemporary combination of South Africa and Italy, with a wine pairing suggestion included for all dishes. Starters include the delightful Parma ham linguine with red chilli, basil, parmesan and cream; or the lamb ragu paccheri with salsa rossa, bone marrow and mint gremolata. Mains include the highly recommended pork belly with spiced butternut, black garlic and candied aubergine; the tantalising Sicilia pizza with courgettes, pine nuts, feta and white anchovies; or the tasty Toscana with mushrooms, caramelised onions and wild boar salami. The decadent desserts include the chocolate nemesis with blueberry ice cream, violet streusel and pimento sponge, or the pistachio-and-olive-oil cake.

Interior Panoramic Views at Idiom Restaurant

The interior with panoramic views at Idiom Restaurant. Photo supplied.

La Sosta (Swellendam)

It’s Italian, but not as you know it. Chefs Salvatore and Nina Branda bring their experience in high-end European kitchens to the fore on a selection of four-course set menus with a fine-dining aesthetic. There are three menus at La Sosta named after three different food sources, namely: Garden, Land and Sea. The superb Sea menu features dishes like the lightly smoked ocean trout with a fresh lemon granita; risotto of Saldanha Bay mussels and broccoli cream; and pan-seared octopus with the perfect texture. Finish off with a selection of classic Italian desserts, like La Sosta’s reinvented tiramisu.

The charming decor inside La Sosta. Photo supplied.

La Trattoria (Stanford)

Some of the best Italian fare in the Cape is dished up in this homely restaurant. Corrado Giovannetti and his son Lionello whip up authentic Italian cuisine from scratch. While a range of delicate antipasti and meat dishes is offered, the home-made pastas are the true stars of the compact menu. From silky fettuccine with Napoletana sauce to the excellent gnocchi with brown butter and sage, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Do ask if the amatriciana is on offer: made with pork cheeks and pancetta in a tomato base, it’s utterly delicious. To finish, you can’t go wrong with a scoop of gelato.

Ristorante Enrico (Plettenberg Bay)

This Italian restaurant along the Garden Route is well-known for serving fresh seafood (so fresh that Enrico’s own fishing boat is used to bring in the catch each morning). The fish of the day is baked in a delicate garlic, white wine and lemon sauce, and served with fresh zucchini. They also have sharing antipasti like the pulled-up focaccia, fresh frittura mista, light-as-air prawns, squid, mussels or wild oysters. End with classic Italian endings like the ricotta cake, tartufo and homemade gelati.

A pizza from Ristorante Enrico. Photo supplied.

Trattoria Da Vinci (Sedgefield)

Steve and Leah Balletta elevate Italian home cooking to new levels of deliciousness at this Trattoria in the coastal town of Sedgefield on Garden Route. Steve mans the pizza oven in the centre of the restaurant, making crispy pizzas, roasting pork loin with crackling, lamb shank and cooking fresh fish to perfection. Other dishes include homemade pasta; a vegetable platter served with cheese and olives; and specials like fresh seafood paella or crumbed pork with creamy mushroom sauce. Save space for the espresso cake with almond meringue and Frangelico cream.

This selection comprises all the Italian restaurants in Winelands and Overberg regions that made the cut for the 2019 Eat Out 500, the list of the best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2019 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know the city is crammed with loads more gems and mainstays that didn’t crack the nod. Remember to tell us about your favourites by reviewing them on our free app

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