New review: Priva Gastrolounge opens above Ritrovo in Pretoria

One of Tshwane’s favourite food sons, Fortunato Mazzone (Forti) recently opened a new fine dining venue with partners Tufan Yerebakan and Piero Cupido situated directly above his flagship Italian restaurant, Ritrovo. And Priva Gastrolounge is all about meeting your every need, finds Diane de Beer.

In addition to the regular dining room space, the exclusive restaurant offers a semi-private dining room for up to 20 guests and a deluxe private dining room for 12 VIPs. The outdoor terrace can seat up to 60 people and will be spectacular in summer with vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. Priva promises a chic encounter, with live jazz bands; a walk-in cigar humidor and a luxurious cigar lounge with a state-of-the-art extraction section; champagne and oyster bar; and a tiny perfumery on the way to a toilet break.

The food

With executive chef Morgan Kloss assisted by pastry genius Minette Smith (formerly of Five Hundred at The Saxon and creator of one of the desserts at the 2013 Eat Out Restaurant Awards), there’s an excitement about the food that’s worth talking about. They offer different menus with many dishes available as tasting portion sizes. The smartly named Priva Amplified menu stars dishes ranging from lamb, chickpea, apple, polenta and sweet onion (R190) to duck with thyme, port, red cabbage and baby spinach (R200), both of which are magnificent. The meat in both instances is tender and rich with complementary combinations of starch and vegetables.

Favourites on the Priva savoury tasting menu are kabeljou exquisitely combined with white anchovy, nasturtium, and avocado (R80); an exotic mushroom, angostura, Jim Beam, crème fraîche and cashew creation (R40), which is a mad mix with different tastes working in tandem; and the foie gras, gooseberry, pork cheek and chilli dish (R100) that celebrates strong flavours in a subtle way.

The bar at the Priva Gastrolounge. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Minette Smith ups the dessert game with playful yet delicate sugar explosions of different tastes and textures. Green tea ice cream is paired with white chocolate crémeux, pistachio dust and 30-second sponge (R65), and passion fruit chips with yogurt panna cotta, passion fruit curd, cumquat preserve, orange meringue and passion fruit bubbles (R65).

For those popping in late with only a snack in mind, Priva’s kitchen is open from 6pm to 2am from Tuesday to Saturday. The late-night lounge menu includes buttermilk-fried chicken (R85), tempura prawns with chilli mayo (R80) and deliciously decadent duck liver parfait with pear and melba toast (R60).

The range is huge, depending on your needs, but they’re sticklers for quality and they want to tick all the boxes when it comes to excellence. These are early days, but it feels as if Priva is on the right track.

The drinks

You’ll find anything you need, whether it’s single malts and spirits, or something from the extensive wine list. A walk in their temperature-controlled cellar allows you to handpick a bottle to accompany your dinner. In addition to their permanent wine list (which could make choosing tough) they have special one-offs to experiment with, as well as 11 serious contenders in the MCC range. It’s all been beautifully put together. (They serve by-the-glass orders in carafes, which measure a quarter bottle.)

The service

You would expect service to sparkle and it does, with many people keeping a watchful eye without being too intrusive.

The interior at the Priva Gastrolounge. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

The ambience

Priva has been in the planning stage for many years. The spectacular views – a rare thing in this city – will keep the terrace pumping in the warmer months. The interiors are underplayed, but their luxurious quality is highlighted by the artists featured on the wall, including the likes of William Kentridge. A trio of jazz musos might softly be strumming their instruments to one side while a few smart waitresses wait, ready to step in when necessary. From the onyx backdrop in the bathrooms to the shimmering grey curtains that filter the lights for semi-private dining, everything has been given all the care it deserves.


Priva is for adults with an age restriction of 25. If you’re going incognito, you might be given the password for private parking and access to the secret entrance.

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