Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tortellino D'Oro - Authentic Italian Restaurant

Food: Italian, Pasta
Wine: Good Selection, although Pricey.
Service: Good. Still room for improvement.
Ambiance: Casual, smarter in the evenings.
In a nutshell: Hearty food, nice wine and good service. Homemade pasta and excellent fresh ingredients and combinations thereof are the signature of this restaurant, with owners always present and an excellent culinary experience almost certain. Always a great choice, although rather on the pricey side. You should book for dinner.
City: Johannesburg, South Africa
Address: Oaklands Shopping Centre. C/o Pretoria Str & Victoria Rd. Oaklands. View Map
Tel: 011 483 1249

I've always been a fan of Italian cooking for its relaxed and casual style, yet color and flavor full meals, with another take on vegetables and a great deal of olive oil. Italian food, however, is much broader than one sometimes imagines, with dishes varying from very fresh and summer toned to creamy and rich.

We've found a place right here in Johannesburg where all these flavors coincide and where you can sit down to indulge or buy a whole lot of goodies from the deli to keep enjoying at home, this place is Tortellino D'Oro... 

Located on Athol-Oaklands Rd in a small shopping centre, it's a haven for us food lovers, filled with amazingly looking antipasti options (fresh and pickled), Italian bakery, take-away meals, wonderful fresh Homemade Pasta and Gelato italiano, and a great sit-down experience, this place will leave you wanting to come back for more. It was so much so, in fact, that after our first visit we were back there again less than a week later, in ocassion of a friend's birthday.

I can't really describe to you my step-by-step experience during one single evening, as it has by now become a potpourri of hearty memories, but I can tell you what it's been like in those two occasions and the dishes that I can clearly recall off the menu for their uniqueness and impact on me, I'm talking about wonderland here. OK, so it's not all perfect, we did have a bit of a dry and serious waiter the first time we came but after a few jokes, he started cracking. Even so, the hearty welcome and service of Valeria Bollini and Manfredo, will usually make up for any service mishaps. As cheesy as it may sound, I can even feel the love that goes into in their heart warming food, definitely the family home touch.

When you sit down, you're presented with the evening's assortment of freshly baked bread and some toppings like olive tapenade, butter and artichoke tapenade. A small platter with a variety of small appetizers will probably arrive following the bread to get your taste buds started. ALthough the menu is not very long, with a set and a seasonal menu to choose from you're still sure to have a tough time making up your mind. So both times we were there we selected an array of starters to share between all of us, and they were absolutely fantastic! From the ones we have tried the most memorable ones are the crostinis topped with camembert and pear; Veal tonne; Pear and almond salad drizzled with truffle oil; antipasti platter and the mussels in Napolitano Sauce (I still like the ones from Thomas Maxwell better, but these ones make a good standing).
The mains have all been good as well, although some better and more outstanding than others. If you go, which you must, definitely try the Ravioli filled with Ricotta and Porcini Mushrooms in a butter sage sauce, Green Taglionni with Porcini Mushrooms and truffle oil and Angel Hair Pasta al Salmone. Yes, there are many more options and it all sounds and looks so good, but you'll go for a sure win with these ones. We have also tried other dishes on the menu which were very nice indeed but not quite as mind-blowing as the previously mentioned ones: Spaghetti with Clams, Pasta with Crab Sauce and I've also heard the Kinglip is a good choice, but haven't given it a try due to it being an orange seafood choice in the SASSI list, as it's overfished.

Desserts I find, are more often than not, heavily overpriced in most restaurants, and Tortellino D'Oro adheres well to this rule. However, we have also given a go to our sweet tooth at this restaurant and my best choice thus far in that department has got to be the chocolate gelato, just great! (and good value for money) Let yourself go and have it in a cone, nothing better than licking your way through it. The Tiramisu was also nice, but I remember it was almost R50 and I've had better.

To be fair, we have been in amazing company both times we've been there and hence it certainly helps making it all extra special, but this place is absolutely worth a visit. Just to give you an idea, I've never been to Italy, but it's the closest I've felt to it. I'm still looking forward to go back for some extra unique foodie goodies, like Aceto Balsamico with white Truffle, Porcini Mushrooms or some of those giant fat olives.

If you decide to give it a try, please let me know how it goes!

Love, iSa

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