Average main course: R90
Serves: Italian deli goodies, fresh breads, gelato, pasta, sit-down dinners and take-home treats
Best for: Generous variety and great people watching
Star rating: Food 3, service 2, ambience 4
The generosity of choice is one of the things that strikes you first. Not only is the menu abundant, but there’s a deli inside the restaurant where you can wander around to pick your piatto misto (mixed plate) from a selection of imported cured meats and cheese, served with chunks of the artisanal bread baked on site and sides like olives, preserves or mustards. (A blackboard list of what’s on offer could, however, avoid displeasure when your first, second and third choices are not available.)
For lunch, the pasta Angelo, with bacon, zucchini, spring onions, garlic, a cream sauce and Grana Padano cheese (R90), is more than enough to share and very tasty. The vanilla option from the great selection of gelato and the Italian apple tart served with cream are both delicious and the cappuccino good enough to return for.
Your meal at Old Town Italy will depend on your selection, whether it’s for breakfast and light meals or something more substantial like a grilled flatbread sandwich from Romagna, steak Florentine or a lemon-caper chicken for dinner. It’s all there and more, but they still have some teething problems, which should be sorted soon. For now I would avoid popular times and go for a simple selection.
The options span far and wide, but come at a price. From a substantial Italian selection (Fontanafredda, Bastianich and Giacomo Borgogno) to good quality local wines (Morgenster, Dalla Cia and Bouchard Finlayson), most are in the R200 and above price range. There’s also an amazing craft beer selection of imported and local options, which would perhaps be gentler on the pocket. Else opt for one of the arty cocktails like the Malfy Lemon Squeeze (R70) made with Malfy gin, fresh lemon, elderflower, grapefruit and brown sugar, or you could select one of the organic veg-and-fruit juices such as the very refreshing Revitalizer (R45), made with pineapple, apple, lemon, ginger root and mint.
We are welcomed by all the service staff and pleasantly served. The let-down comes with the lack of experience if and when there are problems. In a restaurant that has so many options, much can go wrong. More experienced floor managers should be more visible and mindful while constantly training their willing staff to add confidence and competency.
This is where Old Town Italy scores highest at the moment. It’s a deli-café on a grand scale, with a number of seating options and ample time to stroll through the deli section for some gifts or take-home surprises. On a busy day, you’ll find no better spot for people watching.
There’s much to like already, and Old Town Italy will no doubt keep improving.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.