There are many good reasons to visit 95 On Keerom, the oldest of chef patron Giorgio Nava’s restaurants, which opened in 2003.
Obviously, the food – classic Italian fine dining at its best. Nava is extremely particular about his menus and has been serving many of these favourites since day one. Something I’ve always loved and admired is that Nava makes a point of coming out the kitchen during every service to meet and greet his customers, whether it’s their first time or their 100th. I don’t know how he manages it, but I find it utterly charming.
The modern décor inside the 17th century building is as timeless as the cuisine, and it makes me feel even more special that I have “my” table where I am seated every time. It’s this kind of personal attention to detail which I believe contributes to the continued success of the restaurant.
Open every night for dinner, 95 On Keerom is now also open for lunch on Fridays. Along with having a special seat, a meal here can go either way for me – ordering for myself from the menu, or sometimes just putting myself into Nava’s trusted and capable hands. This time it was mostly the former, although it was no surprise he began the feast with the ravioli – butternut, spinach – with sage butter and parmesan; Nava knows it’s one of my preferred dishes. This was after the prosecco specially bottled for his restaurants, of course.
In the Italian style of dining, we followed with multiple courses, from antipasti to pasta to mains, and finally dessert, all paired with Italian wines chosen by Nava.
My friend had the deliciously fresh and summery steamed asparagus with hollandaise sauce, shaved parmesan and rocket, while I began with one of the several carpaccios on the menu – in this case, the seared beef served with a four-cheese topping. There are eight different ones, raw or seared, beef or fish.
We then shared a pasta course of velvety gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and topped with walnuts. It’s another of my favourites; incredibly rich but irresistible.
For main course I chose seared ribeye scaloppine with white wine, parsley and lemon, served with broccoli, while my friend tucked into seared tuna with cherry tomatoes, capers and olives. All main courses include an additional side of your choice – oven-baked potato, parmesan mashed potato (just one – as it is on all the menus), Italian bean salad, stir-fried spinach, crisp focaccia, or soft polenta.
It seems hard to believe, but we still went on to dessert. Nava was one of the first to introduce the chocolate fondant with its hot melting middle and no visit to any of his restaurants would be complete without it. We had the duo (to share) of white chocolate topped with rum, and the dark one, with ice cream on the side. Too divine for words.
Little wonder lunch stretched into an all-afternoon affair.
* The restaurant is at 95 Keerom Street, Cape Town.
Call 21 422 0765, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit 95keerom.com.