Enrico Tarantino, (yes, he is distantly related to the famous Quentin), together with his partner and partner’s son, Michele Dal Lago are living their dream of running a family-owned Italian restaurant in the city’s trendy De Waterkant district. The nondescript entrance up a narrow lane called Courtyard @ the Hudson leads up to the eatery that’s destined to become a hot new favourite among those in the know.
The modest brick-lined restaurant with its wooden table tops, yellow and charcoal decor offers a selection of antipasti, pasta, mains and desserts written up on chalkboards that change according to Enrico’s whim and availability of produce. And, as he enthuses: “This is no franchise, so I can make whatever I please, and you can order whatever you desire”. On the Saturday we visited, it appeared to please the many other patrons who were there too, despite it being Currie Cup final day.
An appetising selection of small bites – sundried tomato, pickled yellow peppers and olives – accompanied by slices of ciabatta were brought to the table by Michele as we settled in. For starters, Enrico suggested we share a portion of Tuscan Cigars: stracciatella di bufala (a type of mozzarella) and rocket loosely wrapped in Parma ham, and drizzled with olive oil and a balsamic reduction; and Vitello Tonnato: thinly sliced silverside topped with a chunky tuna-and-caper sauce. This was an unusual take on the traditional dish but enjoyed nonetheless – and we’ll certainly be back to try the carpaccio and scamorza (smoked mozzarella).
If the 4Ps Pasta is on the menu – it should be as it is a signature dish – order it! Pappardelle, pancetta, porcini and Parmesan – Italian cuisine is so damn delicious! The pasta was cooked al dente, and the sauce flavoured to perfection. We asked for a half-portion of the Gnocchi Gorgonzola to taste, and were not disappointed. The delicately flavoured cream-and-Gorgonzola sauce was delicious. Our third choice to share was the Penne Amatriciana – supple, just firm enough and not over-sauced, but slightly disappointing to my taste as I felt it lacked a more robust flavour…
We were too full to try the mains, but couldn’t resist sharing two desserts, the cannoli and the tiramisu. The cannoli made by a northern suburbs Italian bakery is not the traditional ricotta-filled treat you’d find in Italy, but would satisfy any sweet tooth. The tiramisu, made with pride by Michele, was worth the kilojoules.
The dishes coming out of Enrico’s cucina are simple and delicious, and the warm welcome and friendly vibe ensures we’ll be back to enjoy many more meals here.The 40-seat eatery accommodates diners inside, but on balmy summer evenings, the patio would be a good spot to dine. Osteria Tarantino also has its own liquor licence (you can still bring your own but please be advised that you will be charged a corkage fee), and a cosy fireplace for winter nights.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 9pm
Contact 076 505 1771
Location Osteria Tarantino, 125A Waterkant Street