La Locanda has long been a favourite amongst our book club members (we read wine labels). George struck it lucky when the Soresi family from Varese, Italy decided to open their restaurant in our little city. As cozy at night indoors as it is inviting under the crab apple outdoors on a summer’s day, it is perfect for Al Fresco dining with a bunch of friends or a romantic evening for two. This is Italian the way someone’s grandmother used to make it. Though probably not yours. Unless your grandmother is Italian.
Dario cures his own authentic Italian style meats and makes handmade mozzarella. The Caprese salad is my favourite dish on the menu – mainly because they are not shy to give the tomatoes a good dose of salt and olive oil. None of this sensible sodium intake rubbish. There is an extensive Chef’s Choice menu that changes all the time to make use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Expect dishes such as Creamy Papardelle (fresh, of course) with Prawns & Mushrooms, Osso Bucco with Porcini Mushrooms and Beef Fillet on a bed of Asparagus. I very much doubt you’ll get past page 1 before you’ve made your choice, but should you peruse the standard menu there is also a large variety of dishes to choose from. Excellent choices are the Fritto Misto (crumbed and deep fried seafood with homemade aioli), pretty much all the pizzas (the bases are paper thin, slathered with a generous lick of Marinara sauce and topped with all the cured meats and mozzarella that they are famous for), Gamberi vestiti (gorgeous, crispy prawns wrapped in lardo) and the Capocollo di maiale con funghi e panna (pork neck in creamy mushroom sauce).
Service is friendly and you should expect to be called “darling” at least once before the night is out. Most of the waitrons have been with the restaurant for many years, so they really know the ins and outs of the menu. (This also means they know exactly who you are when you walk in there, so best not take your skelmpie.) The wine list isn’t large, but they have a good selection of good South African wines as well as a few special Italian ones.
La Locanda: www.la-locanda.co.za
Address: 124A York Street (behind the Tourism building)
Phone: 044 874 7803
Hours: 11:00 till late, Monday to Friday
18:00 till late, Saturday