After all these years, celebrated chef and prolific restaurateur Giorgio Nava’s first restaurant, 95 Keerom, still delivers on the goods: Italian cuisine that is at the same time beautifully simple and wonderfully sophisticated.
Oh, where to start; what to order? The carpaccios are always worthy of praise and the beef tartare is reputed by some to be the best in town. (The husband, on ordering the latter, falls silent as it arrives and is unable – or unwilling – to converse for some time.) For myself, I heartily recommend the asparagi alla ‘95 – steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, rocket and generous shavings of parmesan. It’s a reviving spring dish.
The pastas here are wonderful. Special mention must go to the gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnuts – light yet filling; rich but not cloying. Should you be feeling particularly flush, there’s the La Fiorentina 1.2kg grilled T-bone for 2 at a cool R750. For my part, a dish of seared rib-eye scaloppine with white wine, parsley and lemon well and truly hits the spot.
And for dessert? Well, there’s the (famous) dark chocolate fondant, which is always worth a bite. These days you’ll also find a duet of fondants there, one white with white rum and the other dark – it’s a delicious option for two. But it’s the slightly retro options that catch my eye – the Italian chocolate mousse with brandy, the rum baba and the classic tiramisu. We fall for the feather-light promise of the latter and consider ourselves very, very lucky.
An excellent wine list – with some nice options by the glass – makes up for the fact that this is a no BYO establishment. You’ll find a very nice variety of wines here at all price points. At the well-stocked bar downstairs, the barman pours a very fine gin martini and a generous glass of prosecco, which is a lovely way to get the party started.
After a slight dip in service a while back, the quality of the reception is now admirable. Service is warm, attentive, informed and very speedy.
There is something to be said for an establishment confident enough to let the food take the shine, not bombarding the senses with strident décor or insistent music. The look and feel is stylish and sophisticated, without being snobby. This restaurant found its stride years ago and is not about to go toying with the décor
An intimate dinner for two, or any special occasion.
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