Cafe del Sol has notched up many awards since the start in 2007 when Luciana and her children Ryan and Chiara Treccani opened their first restaurant. Originally from Brescia and then Modena, the Treccanis have maintained their heritage in terms of ensuring they cook with the finest high quality ingredients. The love of food came from growing up with their Italian-speaking grandmother (nonna) who excelled at traditional northern Italian cooking.
A standout feature of the restaurant is the personalised service that you get from the moment you arrive. Meals are to be lingered over here as the menu is wide-ranging and the hosts encourage you to slow down, relax and enjoy your meal. Choose a booth perfect for entertaining family or friends or opt for the more intimate two-seater tables that come with armchairs, forcing you to sit back and relax between each course. A requirement in this setup is of course an entertaining lunch companion.
The restaurant is spacious and includes the Landmark Bar, a separate bar area and a private dining room. Floor to ceiling windows bring in natural light and make you instantly forget your location in a shopping mall.
The wine list is excellent, a great showcase of local and international labels that have been carefully selected. It is accompanied by a fresh list of cocktails – for something light and fruity and in-keeping with the garden theme try the Bramble, a mix of Tanqueray gin, lemon and Creme de Cassis. For gin fans the selection is a delight with more than 45 labels to choose from. Even the beer selection is a chart-topper with more than 33 varieties, including some that are non-alcoholic.
Back to the menu – as mentioned the dishes are wide-ranging, Mediterranean in style and there's a great selection of starters. We tried the angel hair wrapped prawns, succulent seafood encased in crisp and crunchy spaghetti-like strips (like kataifi), the Italian-style creamy chicken livers with sage, mustard and balsamic and hunks of toasted bread to mop up all that sauce and, the ravioli of the day – three pillows of pasta filled with porcini. Eating pasta before the main meal is an Italian staple, and we would vote for it as a must-have option.
For mains the seared salmon was coated perfectly in black sesame seeds, garnished with grapefruit slices, and accompanied by avocado mash. We also tried a lamb dish with pea and porcini risotto, a perfect winter Sunday afternoon dish, nourishing and hearty.
The most favoured dessert on the menu is a strawberry pavlova and while it looked magnificent we are of the school that believes no meal is complete without a chocolate dessert. The chocolate fondant is a winner but be prepared to wait a little extra time for for it.
In short, Cafe del Sol has heart. It's evident in their way of doing things, of welcoming guests as if they belong, the attentive service and the nourishing food. A great Sandton option and worth the trip even if you have to travel.
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