La Sosta is owned by Nina Mathew - Branda, her husband Salvatore Branda and her father Christopher Mathew.
Both Nina and Salvatore are the chefs in the kitchen, while Nina's father Chris handles front of house.
The guest house has been made larger by adding on three larger and more luxurious rooms.
They still only offer tasting menus and seat exclusively for dinner. It is still fine dining Italian, as Salvatore is Italian (from Calabria) and had various experiences in kitchens in Italy and Switzerland including a few Michelin Star restaurants.
Nina did her training in Switzerland where you undergo a very intense three year apprenticeship where you are required to work and study simultaneously. She has had the pleasure of doing her training in two of the best five star luxury hotels in Lugano.
Nina and Salvatore subsequently met in Lugano, in the kitchen, and have been planing to open their own restaurant together for a few years. La Sosta happened to be their restaurant for so many reasons.
Gianni and Cristiana have been close to Nina and Salvatore since the beginning of the process and they are fortunate to have them as Friends.
Italian husband and wife pair cooking Italian cuisine with a modern twist in the heart of Swellendam. What more can I say?
The food was amazing, mostly because the chef cooks out of passion and not obligation. A brief description of what I ordered,
Primo, Gnocchi and Springbok ragu. Secondo, Duck with pomegranate sauce on carrot mash Dessert, Traditional Tiramisu.
This 16 cover restaurant is a true gem and has all the right ingredients which come together to create a special evening. The interior is contemporary – sophisticated yet relaxed, the lovely tables are well-spaced and well-appointed. Enthusiastic and charming service is owner-driven (by Gianni). The menu is seasonally focused and monthly changing with quality ingredients deftly handled by Cristiana, allowing the true flavours to shine. Portions are spot on, letting diners sample excellent antipasti, primi, secondi and dessert courses. Lovely calamari, bresoala, quail, gemsbok, beef, lamb, lobster were some of the items on offer, but I particularly enjoyed the ravioli of prawns accompanied by an intense lobster sauce and also the beautifully light, rosemary infused gnocchi. The coffee is also excellent.
The relatively brief wine list contains some gems from the Breede River Valley region (such as De Wetshof, Arendsig, Konigsrivier, Bon Courage) listing vintages and short tasting notes. Given the quality of everything, prices are excellent value and some of the wines exceptionally so (e.g. De Wetshof The Site Chardonnay at R189 when the Cellar Door price is around R135.)
The restaurant is only open for dinner and for nine months of the year, as passionate Gianni and Cristiana return to Milan and the rest of Italy to keep abreast of Italian food trends and home cooking skills. Advance booking essential!
Surely a candidate for Best Country Restaurant or Best Italian Restaurant!
When Gianni and Christiana left Italy a few years ago, a gift arrived in Swellendam... Flavour- bursting, innovative Italian dishes. A menu that changes every month. Personal attention by the owners themselves and well-trained staff. Well designed, intimate space for maximum 20 guests. One of the Western Cape's best kept secrets.