Buen Appetito! Our favourite Italian Restaurants in the Mother City

“With lots of late nights in the office recently and lots of take-away pizza, the team got debating their favourite Italian restaurants in Cape Town. Here’s what they came up with:”

“With lots of late nights in the office recently and lots of take-away pizza, the team got debating their favourite Italian restaurants in Cape Town. Here’s what they came up with:”

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Unfortunately the Italian soccer team headed home early from the Soccer World Cup in South Africa, but thankfully our Italian eateries in Cape Town stayed put (despite floods of tears). With lots of late nights in the office recently and lots of take-away pizza, the team got debating their favourite Italian restaurants in Cape Town. Here’s what they came up with:


I simply love good pasta – and besides many other authentic Italian dishes, IL Leone Mastrantonio in Green Point knows what pasta is all about. Al dente, simple with fresh herbs, amazing prawns, a hint of garlic, succulent tomatoes…. the whole Monty!

Now on top of that the restaurant boasts a chic interior with great modern paintings by local artists on the walls that one can actually walk home with. An all in one “wine, dine, shopping” experience – but first and foremost great understated, fresh Italian cuisine that I will always come back for.


Thankfully my favourite pizza joint is literally in 5 minutes walking distance from the office! Nonna Lina – another Cape Town institution amongst the locals and known for their genuine Italian pizzas. Owned and managed by Antenello, a Sardinian national, this little gem can be found on the bustling corner of Orange & Rheede Street. Their pizzas are traditionally large, with a thin base and marvellous crispy crusts – just the way I like it! Where as some ingredients are sourced locally, the majority of items are imported directly from Italy, so you truly are experiencing a little piece of Italy in Cape Town! The restaurant décor is warm, relaxed and inviting. My favourite pizza has to be the Sarda – fresh tomato, mozzarella, pecorino and the Pièce de résistance – salami, sourced from the region of Emilia Romagna in Italy. Their specialities are also very good and all have names barely pronounceable to the English tongue, so you can bet that they are truly authentic!


My favourite Italian place has to be Carne right in the centre of Cape Town. Owned by a well known Italian restaurateur, Giorgio, this is not a place for vegetarians! However, if you enjoy a fantastic steak, this is the place to be. Carne – which is translated as meat in Italian – serve the finest cuts of Romagnola Beef, Dorper Lamb, a variety of game and more. The meat is so good you do not receive a sauce as with most mainstream steak houses, as Carne believe this “ruins” the flavour of the meat. Great for a first date, the ambience is intimate yet contemporary and cool. The waiters present you a platter with the meat cuts before ordering and explain how each one is best served. So Carne is not only entertaining but also educational! Check out our review on our blog


Pasta has to be one of my favourite “comfort” dishes to not only eat, but of course cook at home. With so many varieties to choose from I love the Pasta Factory in Gardens for their variety and daily specials. Their salad buffet which consist of everything and anything from crunchy roasted veggies, feta, olives, and more – you can basically decide what you want in your salad, as you feel on the day!  The food is always fresh and very well presented and the atmosphere in the restaurant has a very arty, informal vibe – I love it!  Besides the amazing salads, they have a daily lunch special – any pizza or pasta for only R25. An absolute bargain in trendy Park Road!


One of my current favourites is Mezzaluna which can be found on Loop Street. The owner, Jimmy Fiore, is a retired banker from Milan, who moved here to withdraw from the rat race and play golf. As a true Italian, golf would only keep him busy for so long before turning back to food for inspiration. He ended up opening a restaurant with his wife – who cooks beside him at Mezzaluna. My favourite dish on the menu has to be the homemade Ravioli Magro, which is made with veal and absolutely delicious! It’s not the cheapest or smartest of all Italian restaurants in Cape Town but the best time to go is during the day when it is busy and bustling with “the suits” of surrounding offices looking for a good lunch time fix. We took our daughter there for her birthday and asked for pannacotta for dessert to celebrate. We were presented with the biggest pannacotta we’d ever seen! We could tell that they’d had great fun with it as they wrote her name on it with berry coulis. To say the least – it was devoured in minutes! As the menu changes quite often as all ingredients are locally sourced, I will be back to sample more real home-made Italian delicacies!


La Perla in Sea Point – a true Cape Town/ Italian institution with ocean views and a focus on great sea food. Around for 40 years with a chic interior that is somewhat “quirky passé” yet very hip again – it has recently been voted as one of the top 20 Italian restaurants in the world. I simply love their seafood selection, the fact that one feels like family when eating there and that some of the staff have been there since founding days. A good friend of mine swears by the desserts and on a good day you can even enjoy a cigar from their amazing selection.


Personally, there are 2 major selling points for any restaurant for me. Of course the quality of the food tops the list, but coming in at a very close 2nd is the vibe paired with the familiarity and friendliness of the staff. There is nothing better then going out for a good meal and to be greeted – by name – from either the owner or manager. Bravado in Green Point ticks all those boxes. It is “the genuine” Italian experience from the moment you set foot through the front door. The menu offers a variety of excellent dishes ranging from their infamous square pizzas (the salmon and cream cheese pizza being the best of them all), to pastas, light salads and decadent desserts. For the guys – the ribs are a definite winner! There is lots of room for an intimate dinner – just be sure to avoid sporting days as 2 large screens and a lot of noise won’t do your romantic dinner any favours! On warm days I enjoy sitting outdoors on the spacious deck with awesome views of the new stadium and watching interesting passers-by. Bravado has gained a reputation for great Italian inspired food and is definitely “The place to be seen”!


Looking for the genuine Italian experience? The only place to find it would be at the Italian Club in Cape Town. Not exactly well known in fine-dining circles or for its food, which of course is typically Italian in the form of pizzas, pastas and traditional dishes, I would highly recommend it for its atmosphere which is 100% pure Italian. Every Friday evening they host a live show which aims to entertain you with comedy, singing and dancing whilst eat dinner. You best not be shy because you will more than likely be pulled up onto the dance floor with your mouth full of food with other patrons of all ages to wiggle what you got! How more Italian can one get really? By far, the most charming thing I noticed on the night was the older Italian couples arriving fully clad in their vintage dinner dresses and suits to “dance the night away”. You can absolutely guarantee that this has been their Friday night ritual for the past 30 years, and they outlast everyone else. The cherry on top which occurs towards the end of the evening is the dramatic and very entertaining entrance of “Elvis” who’s sole purpose is to ensure that every person “Rocks around the Clock!”.