5 Best Italian Restaurants in Cape Town
Katherine Pannell | 23 May 2020
If I had to choose one cuisine for the rest of my life, without a doubt, I would choose Italian. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of cuisines that I absolutely love, but Italian just has that little extra thing. Much like their culture, their food is full of emotion and it’s a beautiful thing. The only tricky part is: how do you know which Italian restaurants embody that? That’s where I can hopefully come in handy! I don’t claim to know all the best Italian restaurants in Cape Town. However, I definitely spent my fair share of time trying every one that I could. So here is my precious list of the 5 best Italian restaurants that I would recommend to literally anyone and everyone.
This little gem is tucked away in Woodstock and honestly just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Scarpetta is a family-owned restaurant and as soon as you walk in, the authenticity will become abundantly clear. The simple and hearty dishes will leave you craving more. This isn’t the type of Italian restaurant that makes you feel like a customer. From the first foot that you place in the door, you will be treated with the utmost warmth. The whole restaurant is extremely unpretentious and the prices are incredibly fair, in my opinion. They have a set menu of dishes that they always serve and while it isn’t a long menu, there are plenty of options. In my experience, everything on the menu sounds so bloody good that it would almost be torturous if they made it longer.
On top of the set menu, they will often offer extra dishes, based on which good-quality ingredients they sourced that day. This restaurant definitely gives you the vibe that you should just show up hungry with no pre-conceived ideas of what you want. You’ll arrive and they will feed you the best of what they have created from the freshest ingredients, and you’ll be f***ing pleased about it. This is the restaurant you choose when you want food that tastes like it could be on a fine-dining menu but with a vibe that reminds you of home.
The Cousins was actually the first Italian restaurant in Cape Town that I absolutely fell in love with. They serve a few main dishes but their high point is really the home-made pasta. All of the dishes are incredible. Although if I had to choose a favourite, I’d say that the Tagliolini Inferno would take the cake. If you’re a cheese person, they have a pasta dish that is tossed in a huge Grana Padano cheese wheel. They do this right in front of you so they can tease you a little bit more before giving you your food. Let me just say that I’ve never done cocaine (don’t intend to) but eating that dish would probably be my equivalent.
I wouldn’t describe The Cousins as fancy but it’s not the kind of place I’d wear slops to. In my opinion, it hits that sweet spot of sophisticated but not stuck-up. This is an 11/10 recommend for a date night if you’re into Italian food.
True Italic – Osteria Del Capo
True Italic is heading into the more high-end range of things. However, if you’re celebrating something or it’s a special occasion, I’d say it’s worth it. I really love how they’ve done the inside decor. The raw brick and candlelight are rather charming. But I can’t say I was a huge fan of the prices. To be fair, the food was incredible and there is clearly a lot that goes into creating the dishes. I also don’t envy their rent on Bree Street. So yes, it is a bit more pricey than other restaurants but I’d go there again in a heartbeat for the food.
Their menu changes every day but you can expect some delicious handmade pasta and a range of main dishes. I had the arancini the last time I was there and just…wow. True Italic is definitely a name to keep in the back of your mind if you ever want to treat yoself.
La Frasca Restaurant & Pizzeria
If you’ve been reading through this and you’ve been thinking okay Kath, enough with the pasta already. I heard you loud and clear. Onto some pizza! So I found out about La Frasca at the end of last year. And of course, it had been a 5-minute walk from my apartment the whole year without me knowing.
They don’t only serve pizza but with the pizza they serve, I don’t know why you would order anything else. I won’t lie, it is a very expensive pizza and paying that much for one meal makes me cringe a bit. However, this is the best pizza I’ve had in the country. So is it justifiable? Probably not but hey, I regret none of my choices in that restaurant. I would just about sell a kidney to eat there again so make of that what you will.
This restaurant is in Hout Bay so it’s a bit of a drive for most people. But whether you take the forest road or the coastal road, it’s still a beautiful drive. Apparently Massimo’s pizza has been voted the best in Africa and let’s just say that the people aren’t wrong. I did enjoy the pizza at La Frasca a little bit more than Massimo’s but honestly at this point, we’re comparing amazing and fantastic. Like you seriously aren’t going to go wrong with either.
Also, the prices at Massimo’s are really good so that is a huge bonus. If you want a super casual Italian restaurant that you can easily bring your kid and your dog to, this is perfect. Massimo’s is just a really awesome and relaxed place with some crazy delicious food.
So those are my top picks so far for the 5 best Italian restaurants in Cape Town. I’m sure the list will change and grow over the years but I hope that will do for now. I also just want to say that Il Leone Mastrantonio has been recommended to me many a time. I have been dying to go there for ages but unfortunately, it didn’t happen before I had to leave Cape Town. So I can’t speak from personal experience but I’m fairly certain that it also deserves to be on this list. I’m sorry if I’ve missed your favourite Italian restaurant but please do mention your favourites in the comments. Stay safe and happy carbo-loading!