The popular Villa 47 in Bree Street is the sum of its three parts: Seta, the cocktail lounge on the first floor; Pierino Penati on the second floor, helmed by Theo Penati, a Michelin-star chef of his family restaurant of the same name in Italy; and Locanda on the ground floor.
Here, the atmosphere is that of a relaxed Italian bistro where regional speciality dishes are prepared by Vittorio Bianchi, under the leadership of head chef Clayton Bell.
The substantial menu is complemented by blackboard specials, and on the day we had lunch there, we ordered from both.
My friend’s starter was Bruschetta con Fegatini – chicken livers, Spanish chorizo and spring onions, prepared with butter, chilli, garlic, white wine, and cream. With the toasted bread of course. I opted for the delightfully green freshness of the Summer Salad from the specials board, although this dish is almost identical on the main menu where it is named Villa 47 Insalata. On the bed of lettuce are edamame beans, avocado, artichokes, roasted pine nuts, and shavings of Grana Padano.
The true beauty of Italian cuisines lies in the ability to take just a few fabulous simple ingredients and allow them to shine in harmony. Other starters choices include thinly sliced octopus with olive tapenade mayonnaise and crispy capers; a duo of yellowfin tuna and Norwegian salmon simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and salt; and asparagus, with a soft poached egg and parmesan shavings.
For main courses, your options are many, from pastas and risottos, to meaty grills and seafood. Indulging her love for her favourite ingredient, my friend ordered the Spaghetti con Gamberi with prawns, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, chilli and garlic.
Pastas include linguine, farfalle, orecchiette, ravioli, and tortellini – almost all with vegetarian-based sauces – and gluten-free is available.
For my main course, I had seared tuna – perfectly pink – with green peppercorn sauce (which thankfully did not overpower the beautiful fish) and twirls of sweet potato crisps. If I’d wanted something heavier, I could have had 600g of beef wing rib with white truffle sauce, crumbed veal cutlets in butter and white wine, grilled lamb chops, or crispy duck breast with caramelised honey and lemon sauce.
Seafood includes catch of the day (grilled), Fritto Misto (deep-fried prawns, calamari and fish of the day), and grilled prawns.
There is also a selection of cheese, meat, and cheese and meat platters for one or more diners, and desserts reflect a Mediterranean flavour with tiramisu, panettone bread and butter pudding, crème Catalana, caramelised oranges with vanilla mascarpone, and iced mixed berries with hot white chocolate. We picked ours from the blackboard – light and crispy cannoli filled with raspberry cream which were scrumptious…the kind of dish you dream about for days after the fact.
All in all, a great meal bursting with flavour and quality, and classy without being overly fussy.
* Locanda is at 47 Bree Street, Cape Town.
For more information, send an email to email email@example.com; call 021 418 2740; or visit www.villa47.co.za.
Breakfast: 7am-11.30am Mondays – Fridays, 8.30am-11.30am Saturdays and public holidays
Lunch: 12pm-4pm Mondays – Saturdays
Dinner: 6pm-10pm Mondays – Saturdays
By Bianca Coleman