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La Trattoria tells guests a story which begins with an Italian-style greeting of a kiss on each cheek, and a hearty, ‘Ciao!’ from Lionello Giovanetti, chef, owner and host, who started out making gelato, and now cooks for guests as if for his family.
The menu is uncomplicated, showcasing Italian flavours and homemade pasta, and diners are immediately charmed by the overriding feeling that this food is exactly what Italian families eat every day. The full flavours of South African sourced ingredients are turned into an authentically Italian experience.
The main course is where Lionello wins over the hearts of diners with his Italian flare and dedication to all things hand made. The Amatriciana with strozzapreti pasta sounded too good to miss. The rich, tomato-based sauce studded with spicey guanciale (smoked pork cheek), salty pancetta, and nutty pecorino romano arrived, draped over hand-rolled twists of flour and water pasta, daring the most polite diner to dive in, elbows deep. The strozzapreti pasta was the perfect texture to absorb the sultry richness of the sauce. Every Italian claims their Ragout Bolognese to be the best; La Trattoria’s is a balanced mixture of slow cooked pork and beef which shares and imparts the flavours and herbs of Italy with the accompanying tomato and parmigiano. A short pizza menu proves that traditional flavour combinations beat South African combos every time, and a classic Margherita should be made with thick slices of butter-pale melted mozzarella, tomato and basil, not origanum. Vegetarians will be happy with familiar options.
The dessert menu is disarmingly simple and again, entirely authentic. Lionello serves homemade gelato but it is when he offers limoncello or espresso that you know exactly how he would prefer to end his meal.
The wine list is unapologetically Italian in origin in order to compliment the regional food, although a small sprinkling of Western Cape wines do make an appearance. A small selection of wines can be ordered by the glass, but the majority are carefully selected to be enjoyed by the bottle.
Well trained discreet staff who know the menu well.
Warm, Italian welcome into what feels like the Giovanetti home. Mixed leather couches and dining room chairs are comfortably arranged.
This splash of Italy in Stanford is best for a dinner for two, or for a slow catch-up with good friends.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.