(OK… before I start the review… some personal historical context is necessary. I was born in Johannesburg, but spent 2/3 of every year in London, Paris, Zurich, New York, LA, Mauritius etc; flying First Class (and Concorde) exclusively, always in limos and surrounded by high security whilst staying in the Presidential/Penthouse Suites of the world's most iconic hotels. It is here that I met the world's best chefs, spending time with them, sometimes in the hotel kitchens, while Mom was shopping and Dad was working. I was also blessed with the planet's best nanny (no jokes), who, whilst not being a touchy-feely person (think a crotchety Mary Poppins), always expressed her love with food, especially after any trauma I experienced. Guess where the love of food came from?!
Now read on….)
The very first time I met Chef/owner Luca and his sister Natasha over 2 years ago, I ended up having a 2 hour conversation that will burn in my memory forever.
Their blatant, honest, inventive, sacred and passionate foodie souls were frighteningly infectious… regaling me with stories about truffles, Limoncello, farfalle, tagliolini, Doppio Zero, cappuccino vs espresso, burrata, mortadella, prosciutto and Parma ham… their history of learning from their mama, who learnt from her mama, who learnt from her mama… you get the picture.
I was quite literally moved to tears to FINALLY encounter people who revere, respect, sanctify and honour the ART of food as I was taught by those Chefs in my childhood. It was as if my soul had a caffeinated jolt of foodie reawakening… something I thought I would never see again south of the equator.
Get this… Luca MAKES his own pasta. Daily. No jokes. And the menu is in constant daily flux, with EVERY single ingredient imported (except the veggies!) direct from Italia.
I have only ever had sheer foodie heaven in this osteria (a more relaxed and homey eatery..the kind of place the Capo would love…!); like the HOMEMADE gnocchi with Italian sausage râgout (NOT Bolognese), which has been cooked for 3 HOURS in Barbera (Italian red wine), laced with fennel and celery, and liberally dusted with parmiggiano.
Words fail me.
Or how about the antipasti platter with the most astonishing array of meats, accompanied by, again, homemade focaccia?! Or what about the stracciatella ice-cream?!
Or… wait for it… the handmade, super-fresh burrata (a creamy cousin of mozzarella but scarily difficult to make, having to be eaten within 24 hrs MAX), crowned with a slice of real Parma Ham and fresh pesto?!
I instantly started crying the second I took a bite.
Not even kidding.
And I shut up for 20 minutes… a personal record.
The place is also quirky without being cute, the staff always smiley and friendly, presided over by the doyenne of hospitality, Natasha.
They even have WiFi.
Without a code.
Or a capped allowance.
I couldn't think of a single thing that needs to be amended, added, ameliorated, changed or improved upon in all the times I have eaten here.
The tiny resto is packed to the rafters every night with, amongst others, actual Italians happily yapping away/arguing/socialising/debating/connecting with each other, then chucking back Limoncello… what more proof do you need?!