Decameron Restaurant

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50 Plein Street, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa



Good for:

Dinner, Lunch, Outdoor Seating, Reservations


4.0 rating based on 1 rating
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4.0 rating based on 1 rating
4.0 rating based on 1 rating
4.0 rating based on 1 rating
4.0 rating based on 1 rating
  1. Expert Review

    4.0 rating based on 1 rating
    Oct 2014 · Dana Sanchez

    Mario Ladu, a Scandinavian, never learned cooking formally, but that doesn't bother locals in Stellenbosch. Stellenbosh is a university town blessed...

    Mario Ladu, a Scandinavian, never learned cooking formally, but that doesn’t bother locals in Stellenbosch.

    Stellenbosh is a university town blessed with fabulous wine and fabulous restaurants, and locals flock to the Italian restaurant Mario owns and runs with his Austrian wife, Andrea.

    Decameron has been in business for 27 years. It’s not the oldest restaurant in Stellenbosch, but it’s getting there, Andrea told me.

    The restaurant was named after a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. The book, “The Decameron,” is 100 tales of love told by a group of seven young women and three young men who sought shelter in a villa outside Florence to escape the Black Death.

    Ninety percent of the customers at Decameron are locals, Andrea told me. “We don’t see a lot of tourists,” she said. Students from Stellenbosch University come there to celebrate special occasions such as graduation. They come with their parents. The professors come too.

    “I don’t advertise,” Andrea said. “It’s word of mouth.”

    I went to Decameron for dinner on a Wednesday night at the suggestion of a local, a Stellie who works in the food industry.

    There were four in my party, including three tourists. We ordered fish soup with mussels, prawns and calamari; a salad; and two pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven — pizza parma with parma ham and pizza quattro stagioni with tomato, mozzarello, asparagus, ham, mushroom and olives. The food was all excellent.

    The fish soup broth was rich without being creamy, and the mussels were substantial — some of the best I’ve had.

    For wine, I chose the Protea merlot by Anthonij Rupert Winery. It was heavenly.

    The entrance to the restaurant is through a shady garden where you can sit and eat if the weather’s warm.

    Inside, the decor at Decameron gives the restaurant the feeling of being crowded. Not that it isn’t. The walls are covered in reproductions of paintings from the Italian Renaissance period. Some of them come from the Boccaccio book, “The Decameron.” Others come from friends, Andrea said.

    The restaurant was closed for four years and rebuilt from scratch.

    “When we opened, people said the walls looked barren. Friends gave pieces,” Andrea said.

    Like Mario, none of the Decameron staff went to cooking school. In the kitchen, most of the staff are Xhosa.

    As I chatted to Andrea, customers came up to thank her for their meals and give her a hug.

    “I became everyone’s parents,” she said.


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