“What do you think of the Eat Out Best Italian Restaurant in SA?” I asked David at A Tavola in Claremont (below) last week. “No comment. But you’re the fifth person to ask me” was the diplomatic reply. For my money (I paid with Diners Club), A Tavola must be up there as it’s like Assaggi/Amarcord/Tartufo in Johannesburg, only cheaper. The reason is not hard to find – Luciana Righi, sort of like the Fatti’s & Moni’s mama of the ad, only more beautiful and stylish, had a hand. Food commentators seem united on the point that the Eat Out ethnic restaurant choices this year were especially weak, although judging by all the prizes Rust en Vrede won (with a little help from David Higgs and Joakim Hansi Blackadder), if Jean Engelbrecht ever embraced his inner tannie, he would be a shoo-in for Boerekos Restaurant of the Year. Thank heavens Eat Out did not exhibit that anti-Afrikaans bias that derailed the Platter guide this year.
The bottle in David’s hand above is a 2011 Maestro from De Morgenzon, who did quite well in Platter this year. Served blind, I got the Bordeaux blend components but could swear there was a touch of Sangiovese as the wine has a deep wildness. Or was that the Puccini that Hylton Appelbaum played to the vines when they were growing? Whatever he did, it seems to have worked, although I can’t see Hylton giving up Il Leone in De Waterkant and following the herd to the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock for the best Italian Restaurant in SA. Basta! as they say in the old country.