Is the prawn linguini at Il Leone in De Waterkant the best Italian dish in Cape Town? Probably. Giorgio Nava doesn’t serve his world champion risotto at 95 Keerom Street as the culinary genii of Cape Town, the kind who rely on Eat Out for restaurant recommendations, send it back and ask for the rice to be cooked. At two lunches last week, both my lady guests ordered it unprompted and raved. It could be the culinary equivalent of a date with Brad Pitt. Dr Winnie Bowman, chair of our upcoming Good Value Guru Soirée blind tastings of wine, olive oil, teas and what-have-you, took her leftovers away in a doggy bag. Which caused tsuris in Camps Bay when husband Johnny and son David had to toss for it.
Michela Sfiligoi, in town to apply for a passport with husband Atillio (below) along to co-sign her application as under Italian law, the fair sex are children, murmured encouragement to her dish in the best traditions of Italian matriarchy.
Ayama wines not being on the Il Leone menu yet, we settled for a bottle of 2009 Ripasso from Michela’s friend Nadia Zaneto. What an inspired choice: a blend of three Italian cultivars Corvina, Rondinella and a third I forgot after the grappa ruta. Fermented on the skins of the 2008 vintage, this is one of those treasures of Italian viniculture SA does not come close to.
Dense yet light, intense yet playful, what a treat. It may be a poor man’s amarone but until I introduce Michela to Rudi de Wet who plans to make amarone at Grootdrink on the Groot Gariep, it’s all I can afford. Not that Nadia’s amarone is a rip-off on the wine list. R850 is fair when you think Nadia sells it for E40 a bottle in Italy. And 2009 is a great vintage.
We’re planning an agri-tourismo Friuli Feast at the Taj Hotel later this month to showcase these marvels of La Cucina Italiana, interspersed with SA versions like the Ayama Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Giorgio Dalla Cia’s marvellous Teano 2011 super Tuscan style red blend. This promises to be more of a dinner with Johnny Depp.