Pasta perfection: Where to find amazing carbonara in South Africa

This Roman pasta dish is traditionally made with egg, hard cheese (parmesan or pecorino), guanciale or pancetta, and a crack of black pepper. Outside of Italy, however, non-purists may substitute bacon and/or add cream and vegetables to their carbonara. Whichever way it’s made, two elements remain crucial: the pasta (often spaghetti) must be perfectly al dente and the sauce should simply coat the pasta, without the eggs scrambling or the pasta drowning in cream. Here are some restaurants around South Africa that have perfected this Italian favourite.

Asta Italian Restaurant (Stellenbosch)

Asta is known for its perfectly al dente pasta dishes, most of which are mix-and-match – that is, choose your sauce and then choose your pasta. Surprisingly, the carbonara comes only with penne, but it’s still a delicious, comforting bowl of pasta draped in egg, with a splash of cream, coppa (another traditional Italian pork cut) and onion for added flavour.

Forti Grill & Bar (Menlyn, Pretoria)

Chef Forti prides himself on using quality ingredients and serving delicious, authentic Italian meals. Thus, their carbonara is made with spaghetti, pancetta, egg and parmesan. However, they also cater for the South African palate, so cream is optional – although frowned upon.

Moda Ristorante (Craighall, Johannesburg)

The setting may not be much, but don’t let that put you off. While regulars love the thin-crust pizzas, the pasta is also highly recommended. The carbonara is authentic and made with only egg, pecorino and pancetta.

The Cousins (City Centre, Cape Town)

While this trattoria is most famous for its signature mushroom pasta finished in a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, you really can’t go wrong with any of their pasta dishes. The pasta is homemade and, in the case of the tagliatelle carbonara, served in the traditional manner with egg, parmesan and guanciale.

Gemelli (Bryanston, Joburg)

The carbonara here is made with pancetta, egg and parmesan with double cream added – if that’s your preference. However, those diners who prefer the more traditional Roman carbonara can simply request it and the chef will be more than happy to oblige.

Are there more restaurants serving creamy, delicious carbonara that we need to know about? Let us know in the comments below!

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