Bring a big appetite to properly enjoy this downtown Italian eatery, and then take the afternoon off.
This is no ordinary corner café. With natural light pouring through the windows, this airy white space with the occasional neo-classical ornament located a crucial few steps above street level on the corner of Riebeek and Loop is an inner-city oasis. It offers a blissful respite from whatever brought you to this gritty part of downtown Cape Town, as well as a well-made Italian-ish meal and, shall we say, a glass of prosecco?
It’s definitely the sort of place where not having a glass of vino with your Bolognese alla Sorrentina or lamb ragù pappardelle seems such a shame that you should absolutely consider bending whatever rules you may have about lunchtime imbibing. The food – and the mood – are simply too good. It’s also rather too much.
Both the very flavoursome (how can it not be) Giulio’s pasta puttanesca and the open lamb wrap (slices of tender lamb on home-made hummus with toasted pine nuts and lemon-mint yoghurt) arrive in portions guaranteed to rule out a productive afternoon, so you may as well wash it down with a glass of Babylonstoren rosé.
A busy pizza oven and an all-day breakfast menu round out the menu, the latter featuring such crossover crowd-pleasers as pancakes with maple syrup, and a bowl of warm oats with optional Nutella or peanut butter.
Only a serious sweet tooth will have room for dessert. The tiramisu has an excellent reputation, and the gelato is the real deal, but the trick is to keep an eye on the cloche on the counter which, depending on the day, may display such tempting things as lemon, lime and blueberry teacakes or a ricotta, orange and Nutella tart.
The drinks menu is compact and pleasing. There are beetroot or turmeric lattes for those so inclined, and a small selection of vino bianco or rosso, several of which are available by the glass. If you’re feeling festive at breakfast time, both the mimosa and the Bloody Mary are very good.
Smiles all round from the friendly and efficient wait staff.
It’s an upbeat place to meet friends for breakfast or lunch, or for an after-work bite on Thursdays and Fridays, but it’s equally welcoming of just you and your laptop if you’re due for a change of scenery.
An extended lunch break.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.