Restaurant Of The Week: Stelle, Johannesburg

It took a few attempts to get myself to Stelle, an Italian restaurant in the posh suburb of Parkview.

One friend refused to go, claiming it’s a romantic place for couples, and I’m not her type. Another evening it was fully booked for a private function. Finally I made it, and while it would be lovely for a romantic date, it’s also excellent for a gang of platonic pals.

Stelle is way better than the mediocre pizza and pasta places that line most suburban streets. Art and photos adorn the walls, smart blue tablecloths contrast with warm wooden floors and a wine rack takes up much of one wall. We had a table in a room at the back that’s enclosed by a canvas roof but still has a pleasant courtyard feel.

The menu promises passion, dedication and genuine Italian ingredients, and we were all impressed by the results. My veal marsala (R125) brought plenty of thin slices of tender meat with a sweetish sauce that didn’t overpower their flavour. It came with roasted potato wedges that were beautifully crisp around a fluffy interior, with green beans neatly laid between them.

The same veggie configuration came with Davy’s duck breast at R160, which was also excellent. Two other friends went for calamari siciliana, which is a starter but worked as a main meal when they each added a salad. The calamari sauce with olives, capers and tomatoes was so piquant that we asked for extra bread so we could all dip in.

On my last visit the desserts hadn’t been a highlight, but this time they were all superb.

Sacher torte at R40 was fabulously moist and rich with chocolate, hints of almond and a tang of raspberry, perhaps. A lemon meringue was tart enough to tingle our tastebuds and the homemade Nutella ice cream was so deliciously dense that ordinary ice cream felt wimpy in comparison.

It was late when we finally dragged ourselves away, but the owners didn’t care. They were sitting on the table next to us tucking into a feast of their own.

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