The Best Italian Restaurants in Cape Town 2017

The Best Italian Restaurants in Cape Town 2017

Image: Villa 47

From traditional trattorias to chic modern eateries, here are our favourite Italian restaurants in and around the Mother City.

What’s your favourite Italian dish? Perfectly prepared antipasti, pillowy gnocchi, an exquisitely thin-based pizza, hearty osso bucco or good old spaghetti Bolognese? Italian cuisine is so darn delicious, and Cape Town has some fabulous places where you can get the real deal. Here are our recommendations; feel free to add to our list in the comments below. Buon appetito!

1. A Tavola

A Tavola Restaurant Claremont
What Fresh, seasonal produce is the order of the day at this busy restaurant in Claremont, where hearty aromas of bold Italian flavours waft into the dining area from the open-plan kitchen.
The food Passionate owner David Haupt is committed to using organic herbs and vegetables, pasture-reared beef, sustainable fish and handmade pasta (including wheat and gluten-free) in all the tasty dishes. For starters, we recommend the zuppa ai frutti di mare (a layered homemade seafood broth with mussels, prawns, line fish and calamari, served with garlic bruschetta). For mains, meat-eaters will love the tagliata di manzo (sliced herb-rubbed 250g rib-eye with roasted Roma tomatoes and broccoli); vegetarians will be in their element with the tagliolini ai funghi e tartufo (fresh thin pasta tossed with wild mushrooms, fresh rocket and truffle oil, topped with Parmesan); while pescatarians can enjoy the pesce al forno con salsa verde (grilled fresh line fish served with stewed lentils, broccoli, marinated diced tomato and salsa verde). After your meal, browse the deli for fresh Italian cheeses, charcuterie and pasta sauces.
Service and ambience This service at this casual, glass-fronted restaurant is friendly and knowledgeable.
Contact 021 671 1763
Where to find it A Tavola, Library Square, Claremont (opposite the Kingsburg Hospital), Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Jackie Lange

2. Villa 47

Italian Food Cape Town – Villa 47
Image credit: Flamma Swainston

What It’s the talk of Bree Street, in fact, the whole of Cape Town. And for good reason. This three-in-one restaurant – the lifelong realisation of owners Luciano Previtera and Michele Mirotto – serves sensational authentic Italian cuisine in a deliciously swanky setting.
The food Villa 47 has three levels: Locanda serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; Stuzzico does Italian tapas and dessert; and Villa 47 does Asian-fusion fine-dining for dinner. At the ultra-Italian Locanda, we loved the Villa 47 Tortellini (filled with prosciutto crudo, and smothered in ragù, with a touch of cream and Parmigiano Reggiano) and the Controfiletto (300g beef sirloin with a white truffle sauce, served with vegetables and frites). But, I have a sense that whatever you order is guaranteed to be excellent!
Service and ambience Chic, buzzy and laidback, with great views of Bree Street’s passing trade.
Contact 021 418 2740, reservations@villa47.co.za
Where to find it Villa 47, 47 Bree Street, Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Tamlyn Ryan

3. True Italic

True Italic Best Italian

What There’s nothing pretentious about this family-run osteria in lower Bree Street in the heart of the CBD. Chef Luca Di Pasquale was born in Joburg to Italian parents, but honed his cooking skills in Italy, where he spent most of his teenage years. His sister Natasha makes the delectable desserts on the menu, and handles the front of house.
The food Simple, flavourful and fresh! The Italic board makes the perfect antipasto, with a small selection of Italian cured meats, cheeses, grilled vegetables, focaccia and a small salad. For our pasta course, we shared the home-made rigatoni alla Sicula (with a slow-cooked lamb sauce) and gnocchi with saffron and pecorino – both of which were divine. The sizzling sirloin, served tagliata-style (sliced) with a fresh garden salad and topped with coarse salt and balsamic vinegar was utterly satisfying as a main. Sadly, we had no room left to try dessert
Service and ambience Rustic, unpretentious (and a little dark). Seating is at wooden tables and benches. Italian football jerseys and a gallery of oil paintings deck the exposed brick walls on either side of the long, narrow restaurant. Affable Luca keeps a watchful eye over his enthusiastic waitrons.
You must stop by the deli counter on your way out for take-home meals, charcuterie, cheeses and sweet treats.
Contact 021 418 7655, italic86@gmail.com
Where to find it True Italic, 15 Bree Street, Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Nikki Benatar

4. 95 Keerom Street

Italian Food 95 Keerom
What Giorgio Nava’s first venture in the heart of Cape Town’s legal district is still a firm favourite. He has since spread his Milanese flair to Carne and 95 at Morgenster in Somerset West.
The food This restaurant provides consistently excellent Italian dishes, and possibly the best meat to be found anywhere in Cape Town. Start with la tartare (hand-chopped raw prime fillet dressed with olive oil, onion, egg, capers and parsley). If raw beef is not your thing, try the ravioli (butternut or spinach, with ricotta, sage butter and Parmesan) or one of the excellent traditional pastas. For a special occasion, splash out on la aragosta alla griglia (two 400g crayfish, grilled to perfection with olive oil and lemon).The delicious white-and-dark chocolate fondant for dessert is not to be missed. And the wine list is well selected, too.
Service and ambience The service is professional, as you’d expect from one of the city’s most consistent restaurants. Ask to be seated in the stylish upstairs section with towering tree in the middle.
Contact 021 422 0765
Where to find it 95 Keerom Street, Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Jackie Lange

5. Osteria Tarantino

osteria-tarantino-new-restaurants
Image credit: House & Garden

What A staircase on Waterkant Street in De Waterkant leads you up to this delightful pocket-sized osteria, whose owner Enrico Tarantino is as charming and unpretentious as the delicious plates he dishes up. Read our full review here.
The food For starters, we shared the Tuscan Cigars (stracciatella and rocket wrapped in Parma ham), which were divine. We tried two pasta dishes for mains: the not-too-rich and creamy Gnocchi Gorgonzola, which were pillowy and comforting, and the 4 Ps pasta (pappardelle, Parmesan, porcini and pancetta), which was delectable and moreish. The cannoli for dessert rounded off a truly satisfying experience.
Service and ambience The daytime vibe is warm and rustic (think unsanded wooden tables, a chalkboard menu and easy-listening Italian music), which gets a makeover when the sun goes down, with white tablecloths and dim lighting.
Contact 021 418 0099, enricotarantino48@gamil.com
Where to find it Osteria Tarantino, 125 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town
TIG reviewer Nikki Benatar

6. Giulio’s Cafe

Italian Restaurants Cape Town – Giulio's
What A cool-and-cosy café where heritage and passion meet in the most splendid of ways. Owner Giulio Loreggian grew up watching his mother and nonna lovingly bring a large family together with their homemade cooking. After training as a chef and working in a café under his food idol, Jamie Oliver, Giulio returned to Cape Town to open his own café in the city.
The food Simple, fresh, honest. We recommend the Bolognese alla Sorrentina (spaghetti with minced beef, cooked in a delicious red wine and tomato sauce). Also, look out for the daily Mangia Harvest Table, for a great selection of fresh, delicious dishes.
Service and ambience A light, calm and airy space, where you can comfortably enjoy good food and drinks, for either breakfast or lunch.
Contact 021 418 6304, info@giulios.co.za
Where to find it Giulio’s Cafe, 16 Loop Street, Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Tamlyn Ryan

7. Restaurant Amore

Restaurant Amore – Cape Town Italian
What An intimate ristorante where chef-owner Kikko di Mar and his charming wife Dessy (front of house, baker and pasta-maker) are living their dream of owning an authentic Italian restaurant in the leafy southern suburbs of Cape Town. This relative newcomer to the local restaurant scene punches above its weight with its delicious authentic Roman cuisine. Kenilworth is enjoying a revival, with the recent opening of Pam Golding’s new building along with an array of street cafés.
The food The menu is small, as dishes are chosen according to the best local and imported produce available. The bruschetta on arrival was delicious (no watery tomatoes here, only ripe cherry fruit delicately flavoured with basil and a hint of garlic). The pillowy gnocchi was perfectly seasoned with a generous amount of coppa, Asiago and a touch of brandy – outstanding. The risotto that followed was served al dente as it should be – creamy and dreamy. The stand-out course for me was from the secondi section – tender, melt-in-the-mouth free-range lamb chops, marinated overnight in herbs, served perfectly pink and accompanied by honey-glazed baby vegetables and potatoes. Dessy insisted I try the tender beef fillet cubes prepared with artichokes (out of season, so canned or bottled Italian ones are used), bacon and brandy – and I’m so glad I did – simply delicious and will ensure a quick return for more of the same. The tiramisu – the only dessert prepared by Kikko (Dessy makes all the baked and prepared desserts), was a perfect ending to an outstanding meal.
A word of caution In Italy a typical meal consists of four courses: antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci, – so portions here are appropriate for this style of dining. Don’t expect enormous plates of food.
Service and ambience Light and airy with sand-blasted windows, the interior is simple and elegant Service is friendly and attentive, but you may have to linger over a glass of wine from the smallish but interesting wine list if restaurant is full.
Contact 076 037 7477, restaurant.amore@outlook.com
Where to find it Restaurant Amore, Corner Main and Myrtle Roads, Kenilworth, Cape Town
TIG reviewer Jackie Lange

8. Pane e Vino Food & Wine Bar

Italian Restaurants Stellenbosch – Pane e Vino
Image credit: Lisa Wallace

What A charming and unpretentious taverna in an industrial area behind Oude Libertas in Distillery Road, Stellenbosch. The affable owners are the Dalla Cias: winemaker Giorgio (of Meerlust fame), his son George who makes the grappa, and George’s talented wife, Elena, who prepares the delicious Italian fare.
The food Simple, traditional and utterly delicious Italian dishes using fresh organic ingredients. Visit on Saturday over lunch when the local Italian community are out in full force for a coffee and a chat – but do remember to book as it’s very popular. On the day we visited, the blackboard menu offered pappardelle all’aragosta (crayfish pasta), a choice of antipasti including prosciutto e melone and bresaola con rucola. Under the primi section was tortelli au ragu (ravioli with meat sauce), and for secondi, there was a choice between the melanzane alla Parmigiana, arrosto di manzo (roast beef), and arista di maiale (pork belly with roast potatoes).
Service and ambience A stone fireplace and brick walls create a homely vibe in this cosy taverna that doubles as a tasting room for the Dalla Cia wines and grappa made nearby. On hot days you can sit outside under cover as you would in a roadside trattoria in Italy… The service is warm and hospitable.
Contact 021 883 8312, info@paneevino.co.za
Where to find it Pane e Vino Food & Wine Bar, Behind Oude Libertas, 7 Distillery Road, Stellenbosch
TIG Reviewer Jackie Lange

9. Magica Roma

Magica Roma Owners
Image credit: Channel 24

What This traditional ristorante Italiano in the heart of Pinelands has maintained a fine reputation for serving delicious authentic Italian food in congenial surroundings.
The food Chef-owners Franco and Ezio whip up traditional Italian dishes and, although the menu is extensive, they are both more than happy to tailor-make a dish to suit discerning palates. Start with a selection of antipasti, followed by the zuppa di pesce (seafood soup) or the Tagliata Fiorentina (sliced grilled fillet dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a herb sauce), and end with the decadent tiramisu – if you have room. The excellent wine list includes local as well as a good Italian wines.
Service and ambience Although the 1970s decor appears dated, it is this comfortable and familiar environment that is so charming. The efficient waiters are warm and friendly and, if you’re a regular, Ezio will come over and explain the specialities of the day. Booking is essential, especially if you want to sit in the room at the far end of the restaurant away from the buzz.
Contact 021 531 1489
Where to find it Magica Roma, Number 8, Central Building, Central Square, Pinelands
TIG Reviewer Jackie Lange

10. Bocca

Bocca Italian Restaurant
What This chic, upscale pizzeria, owned by Burrata’s Neil Grant, is one of line of popular eateries on buzzy Bree Street. Be prepared to queue on the pavement – New York-style – to get a table.
The food We have yet to try chef Evan Coosner’s dishes (he took over from Annemarie Robertson in October 2016), but judging from the Cape Town Critics, all seems good. You must order one of the Neapolitan-style pizzas, prepared in an oven imported from Italy!
Ambience The ubercool wood-and-glass interiors give the place a contemporary feel. There’s upstairs seating too, and pavement tables that are perfect for post-work people-watching while you enjoy a quick evening drink.
Service When we visited last, we felt that the friendly, well-intentioned waitrons needed training…
Contact 021 422 0188, info@bocca.co.za
Where to find it Bocca, Corner Bree and Wale Streets, Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Nikki Benatar

11. Mamma Roma

Old School Italian – Mamma Roma
Image credit: Babble

What A typical Italian mom-and-pop concern run by hands-on and hospitable husband-and-wife team, Romano and Christina Gorrini.
The food The restaurant specialises in northern Italian cuisine that’s made with top-notch ingredients. Start with the seafood soup (made with cream and tomato), then move on to the lamb shank or the meat ravioli. Check the daily blackboard for Romano’s specials and if there’s osso bucco on the menu, order it!
Service and ambience Friendly, comfortable and familiar. Experienced waiters, who have been there for almost as long as the owners, ensure service is smooth and unobtrusive. Regulars (especially on rugby weekends) keep coming back for the consistently good food, homely atmosphere and efficient service – not to mention the generous portion sizes. Christina greets regulars by name and knows their preference for tables when they book.
Contact 021 685 2051
Where to find it Mamma Roma, Dean Street Arcade, Newlands, Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Jackie Lange

12. Il Leone Mastrantonio

Best Italian Restaurants Cape Town – Il Leone
Image credit: Ceili McGeever

What This convivial Green Point ristorante serves traditional and modern Italian dishes, and is always packed with loyal locals and tourists from the nearby hotels.
The food Well-prepared Italian classics that pack a flavour punch. The good news is that there are loads of options for vegetarian, pescatrians and carnivores alike.
Service and ambience It’s great for people-watching and dining with friends – even if the tables and chairs are too close together. Have a drink at the bar before being seated at your table. And be sure to book well in advance to get a table downstairs, which is where you want to be.
Contact 021 421 0071, illeone@mastrantonio.com
Where to find it Il Leone Mastrantonio, 22 Cobern Street, Green Point, Cape Town
TIG Reviewer Jackie Lange

We also rate:

  • Pesce Azzuro
  • Al Dente, Somerset West
  • Nonna Lina
  • Al Dente, Woodstock
  • Mario’s
  • The Cousins Trattoria
  • Meloncino

Research: Tamlyn Ryan and Alicia Chamaille

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Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 14 December 2016

48 Responses to “The Best Italian Restaurants in Cape Town 2017”

  1. Kiboko

    I m not sure what study your culinary expert did but i been to no 10, LA BOCCA and the pizza is really bad as it was tasteless i ask for ORIGANO and no one knew what i was talking about, this was in Jan 2017, I m italian and i had pizza from the north all the way down to Napoli the motherland of pizza

    Reply
    • Michelle Reid

      I am confused – I absolutely don’t like La Bocca. I think it is the pits. So all I can say I agree with you. La Bocca does not rate at all. Seriously, not at all.

      Reply
      • Inga

        I agree. I don’t know how Bocca can be on this list, but LA FRASCA is definitely missing… and maybe Ferdinandos(I love how it began literally in their house as a secret pizzaria).

        Reply
        • The Inside Guide

          Thanks Inga and Michelle. Ferdinando’s is a beaut – read our review here

          Reply
  2. Enzo

    Can you please write correctly Ossobuco . Thank you !

    Reply
    • The Inside Guide

      Hello Enzo

      Thanks for your comment. The correct spelling of osso buco is as we have it – it is two words.

      Reply
  3. Malcolm Jacobs

    Magics Roma is a class above any other restaurant in South Africa

    Reply
  4. Dean

    Italian Kitchen in Newlands should have been on this list as well. Amazing food with great service

    Reply
  5. B-J Klein

    How come there are comments from 2014 here when the post is supposedly 14 December 2016!! Surely this is a totally dated list?!

    Reply
    • The Inside Guide

      Hi BJ
      The post was originally published in 2014, and the most recent update (with new restaurants, such as Osteria Tarantino and Villa 47) was made on 14 December 2016. Hope that clarifies it. Buon appetito!

      Reply
  6. David

    Bacini’s and La Frasca cannot be excluded from a list of top class City Bowl Italian eateries. La Frasca is my favourite in the Gardens\Vredehoek area.

    Reply
  7. Liora Lazarus

    Love A Tavola. Deeply authentic. Also surprised you didn’t mention Pesce Azzuro.

    Reply
  8. Melissa

    I love Pesce azzuro in woodstock!

    Reply
  9. Jared

    Nonna lina –
    Estate pizza with fior di lata mozarella, cherry tomatoes and basil
    Nonna lina pizza with parma ham rocket and fresh cherry tomatoes
    Davidedu pizza with smoked chicken peppadew caramelised onions and fresh pineapple (this is the only nontradiotal item to try)
    Butternut panzerotti in a nona lina hand cut fresh tomato sauce.
    Then either the vitello al mirto or vitello lemone. Veal escalopes in a light lemon or sweet wine sauce with with thinly sliced zucchini in a parmesan cream topped with toasted vreadcrumbs and parmesan
    Dessert is the merigueta with homemade vanilla pod ice cream fresh strawberries and rasberry coulis
    If you order those dishes you will be having the best version of all of those in the country guaranteed. I have not even had better in Italy. If you disagree come complain to me

    Reply
    • Jared

      Il leone –
      Mussels in tomato white wine garlic and fennel sauce
      Artichoke salad. This is THE best salad in the country. Their dressing uses apple cider vinegar and that gives it such balance between sweet and acid. And then the creamy avo cuts right through both. And the artichokes themselves are amazing.
      mains have to be pastas
      either the chicken or veal strios pene
      Or the pene ragu. This is how bolghnese is supposed to be made. Not minced meat but rather 12 hour slowed cooked shin or other meat that breaks down tenderly to create the sauce.
      Go down the road to gelato mania for dessert

      Reply
      • Jared

        Magica roma –
        Everything good, but the two dishes that for me are the best, but arent on the menu
        1. Frittata salad – traditional salad with chopped frittata i.e.italian omlete. Dont ask me why its good, ut jist is.
        2. Now the star – calamari salad. Paper thin aubergine and butternut grilled topped with grilled calamari heads and crispy fried onions with a light lemon sauce. Its not a salad at all. Its just so unique and absolutely delicious.
        3. Etzio – the co owner. Nicest man you will meet. You will love this man as soon as u meet him. AND forget about the menu because he will arrange that they make whatever u want. Im not even joking, im sure this guy would make dim sum if u asked nicely

        Reply
        • Jared

          Lastly, Burrata at the biscuit mill deserved a mention.
          Its margherita pizza is the best in cape town. I wouldnt order any other pizzas here or at Bocca (same owners) but the margherita is sensational.
          Its slightly chewy and spongy around the crust which contrary to popular belief is actually how the original pizza was in napoli.
          Otherwise the ravioli at burrata is also fantastic. Its a modern take on ravioli so i wont give it away, but it is excellent.
          If thin crsipy crust is what u want absolutely nothing compares to nonna lina. Nothing!

          Reply
      • Micky

        Great food but i always leave there thinking …how come the bill is so much higher than you pay at most similar upmarket places.

        Reply
  10. Cristina

    i conferm Best pizza of All at Big Route, Green Point

    Reply
  11. F.Swainston

    add
    Pesce azzuro in woodstock
    and the cousins in barrack str

    Reply
  12. Shannon

    Bacini’s in Kloof street is definitely a top Italian restaurant in Cape Town!!

    Reply
  13. Stephen

    Hey, what about Bella Italia in Sea Point and Vredehoek?

    Reply
  14. Yuri

    How can you forget Postachino in Sea Point, probably the best of all….

    Reply
  15. Daniela

    Postacino in seapoint, great sangria and their veal dishes are superb. Vibey and good service

    Reply
  16. Ted Weber

    I agree with Vanessa about Il Capero in Camps Bay being great.
    also not to be missed is that old Sea Point main road favorite
    “Pizzeria Napolitana” still turning out a great meal even though the
    “Bay of Napoli” is a little bit dated now!

    Reply
    • Mavis

      ThePizzeria Napolitana with cook Maria back in the kitchen is the best of the best in Italian food
      From pasta to calamari to veal dishes and deserts
      You will think you are eating in Rome

      Reply
  17. hugo meyer

    Pizza Vesuvio, tygerwaterfront.

    021 914 1414

    Reply
  18. Kirsty

    Massimo’s in Hout Bay is definitely worth a mention too. 🙂

    Reply
  19. Anthony

    All in the list are great.
    Give Il Capero , a small Siciliian restaurant in Camps Bay a try (opposite the Catholic church)
    Run by Aldo in the front with his wife cooking in the back…

    Reply
    • Vanessa

      IL CAPERO! The hidden gem of Camps Bay and the most amazing authentic Sicilian cousine. You see most of the italian comunity in CT at this place. It can’t be missed!

      Reply
  20. JZ

    Goloso on Seapoint Main Road!

    Reply
  21. Neil

    Mouth watering! Great post. Those restaurants are on my 2015 to do list now!

    Reply
  22. Alessandro

    MELONCINO WATERFRONT !!!

    Reply
  23. Donna

    I tend to agree with this list although I think that Meloncino in the Waterfront is missing!

    Reply
  24. Debby Myers

    You forgot one of the best – La Perla!

    Reply
  25. conni lamperini

    where is “big route” in greenpoint??? – excelent pizza!!!!

    Reply
  26. Cristina

    How on earth can you have missed out Massimo’s in Hout Bay??? The BEST Italian food in town!!!

    Reply
  27. charmaine

    Forgot Harlequin Restaurant in Parow. Restaurant open 50 years ago (1965). Thank you.

    Reply
  28. Sam

    Brilliant list and all my faves too.

    Reply
  29. Tony

    You guys have missed the best gem in Cape Town. La Frasca in Breda str, gardens, will knock the proverbial socks of practically all other Italian restaurants in SA.
    Awesome food, fantastic people and a perfect ambience. An absolute must!!

    Reply
  30. J

    Balduccis on the waterfront? The fact that is not on this list totally discredits it.

    Reply
    • Alex in wonderment

      I am sorry but Balduccis is not a traditional italian restaurant.. Its commercially good but not well researched and selected food!

      Reply
      • Johan

        Balduccis have lost the plot 3 bad meals in a row,more interested in selling expensive wines to holiday makers

        Reply
  31. Steve

    great list but missing:
    La frasca (where Limincello used to be) 8 Breda St, Oranjezicht, Cape Town, 8001
    072 083 5676 run by north eastern Italuan couple. Authentic. Delicious.

    The Cousins restaurant 3 Barrack St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000
    021 461 3168
    Italian attitude cis they know the foods great

    Assaggi has a popup restaurant summer of 2014-2015 in sea point above Duchess of Wisbeach: that ought to ge good too

    Reply

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