The corner of Jan Smuts and Bolton in Rosebank has seen a very welcomed turnaround, with two new restaurants already in motion and a third in the pipeline. The first to open was The Bolton Road Collection, owned and run by the same people who brought us Social on Main. It’s a vibey restaurant with an adjoining bar that heaves on a nightly basis. Just a few days ago, on the Bolton side of the block, the guys that brought us the formidable Eatery JHB and Parliament in Parkmore opened Coalition.
Best for: A relaxed bite to eat
Parking: Secure parking to the left of the restaurant on the corner of Bolton and Newport
Price: Mains are, on average, between R80 and R120
Star ratings out of 5: Food 4, service 3, ambience 4
It’s a laid-back pizza joint, where they’re dedicated to giving you an authentic, Neapolitan pizza experience. This means a two-day rising process to make the dough, from 00 flour, and using simple, crushed tomatoes for the base. They also make their own fior de latte mozzarella from curds that are specially flown in from Puglia in the Cape, and cook the pizzas at temperatures of around 400°C to give you that perfectly puffed and marvellously charred speckle on the crust.
The pizzas are all named after the owners and their friends so there’s nothing authentic in this arena, although there’s no avocado or bacon in sight, which will please the purists. Standouts include the Holtini, with coppa ham, thyme, mushrooms and Italian parsley; the Nupura, with sundried tomatoes, grilled artichokes, kalamata olives and basil; and the Asha, a pizza bianco with smoked trout, capers, mascarpone and fresh dill. The pizzas are terrific; the quality of the ingredients is high, and you won’t find many people leaving even a slice to take home.
The Coalition is intimate, with the pizza oven taking up most of the open-plan kitchen, so the menu is limited. The salads mostly keep with the Italian motif: a Caprese with heirloom tomatoes and home-made mozzarella; a house salad of burrata cheese, prosciutto, artichokes and rocket; and a wonderfully named Not Really salad of bonemarrow, Italian parsley and focaccia. There’s also one meat and one fish dish, both of which are cooked in the pizza oven. The former is a slow-cooked beef short rib that falls off the bone, served with a crisp focaccia and a gremolata that stings with zesty flavour – an absolute must.
For dessert it’s a toss-up between a rich and indulgent tiramisu made with quality marsala wine and mascarpone, a panna cotta that’s subtle and delicious, and a simple affogato to which I would recommend adding a shot of grappa.
The drinks selection is neat and tidy. For an aperitif you can choose between an Aperol spritz or an Inverroche and tonic; in the beer department there’s CBC lager on tap or Peroni by the bottle; and, in the wine division, you can choose from a small selection of different and interesting whites and reds including Mullineux, AA Badenhorst and Spice Route. By the glass you’ll find good, local pinot grigio and sangiovese.
They’re not working as a well-oiled machine just yet, but the service is friendly and welcoming.
It’s cool and unpretentious, with minimalist décor, high ceilings and trendy lighting. There are only seven tables that are spaced close together, so there’s not much privacy to be had, but this creates a buzzing atmosphere that’s lively and infectious.
The music is fantastic.
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