Meloncino Restaurant brings Contemporary Milan to Cape Town

Fine dining with a big dollop of Italian authenticity

Paolo Carrara was well on his way to a career in finance but during a family visit to Italy he became inspired by the authentic home cooking of Southern Italy whilst he helped out at family-owned restaurants. He noticed that high fashion and forward thinking Milan and Rome's restaurants were more contemporary chic than mama's kitchen yet still served pizza and pasta cooked from scratch. Armed with recipes straight from his father's restaurant in Rome he decided to modernise Italian eating in Cape Town with a restaurant reminiscent of stylish Italy. He was always more of a people than an office guy anyway.

Much like the experience of drinking an expensive coffee at Saint Marks Square in Venice you are buying into the experience of dining with one of the top destination spots in South Africa as your background, the V&A Waterfront, and the informal, casual balcony is bathed in these surroundings.  Designed by a Greek architect the compartmentalised restaurant assumes a formal setting with clean lines for intimate dinners and a central, 360 degree, island-style bar makes for a lively cocktail experience. The deli, brace (Italian braai) and wine racks are all on show which adds to the restaurant's authenticity and certainly gets our mouths watering.

Orders might take a little longer, but that's because they are cooked from scratch

We are tucked underneath a crisp white table cloth and seated on comfortable black leather seats as our waiter James hands us our menus and napkins. A variety of homemade Italian breads, biscotti, pastas and pizzas are listed in Italian and English on our exciting menu and Paolo informs us that top Italian chefs Andreas, Luciano and Roberto have trained South African-born chef Sandra for two years. Sandra uses special pasta boilers, an onsite braai (brace) to give meat and fish a smoky taste, high protein pizza bases that have been voted the best of 2010 by Wine Magazine and carbonara made the Italian way with fresh parmesan and pancetta.

Meloncino can not only boast about their award winning pizzas but their extensive list of wines won Diners Club International's Platinum wine list of the year 2010 in recognition of the quality of choice. I opt for smoothly textured Diemersdal Pinotage with oriental spice, chocolate and roasted banana flavours by winemakers Thys Louw and Mari van der Merwe.

Magnificent Italian aromas and tender, smoky sirloin

To start with we opt for a crisp Focaccia bread served with a selection of antipasti including rotollo di mozzarella (mozzarella), salmone marinato (salmon), tortino di zucchini (baby marrow) and tronchetto melanzana (eggplant).

For mains my friend opts for Spaghetti Scoglio in Carta Fata which is spaghetti with mixed seafood, fresh cherry tomato and chilli. Wrapped in transparent wrapping it has been placed in an oven for 20 minutes in order to infuse the seafood with the pasta. It is presented to us wrapped in a delightful bow and when James opens up our pasta present he describes the magnificent aromas perfectly. With an ample variety of seafood and a delicious marinade its little wonder that this is Melancino's signature dish. I opt for Tagliata di Manzo alla Righetto with tender and smoky sirloin steak from the brace served with fresh rocket, cherry tomatoes, lemon, oregano and shavings of Parmesan. This is fine dining with a big touch of Italian authenticity.

Melocino's dining compartments are ideal for private functions and intimate dinners, but the central bar has been known to attract a nightlife crowd and the venue has played host to DJ's, live music, fashion shows, gourmet evenings and the J&B Met. The restaurant offers half price cocktails between 16:00 and 18:00 every day and regulars in search of five-star treatment can opt for a VIP card for discounts, birthday gifts and invites to exclusive events.

By Lisa Nevitt

Meloncino Restaurant
Shop 259 | Upper Level | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 419 5558

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