It’s the kind of place that embodies everything you’ve heard about the Old Biscuit Mill: hip and urban with a personal touch lent by homey accents here and there. In the warm, inviting space of Burrata (cue Mumford & Sons), the light fixtures are made from upcycled old wine bottles, and the napkins – a far cry from starched linens – are soft squares of white cotton edged with red thread. This pop of vintage red, also found on the salt and pepper shakers, matches the restaurant’s visual centerpiece: a 2.6 ton pizza oven imported from Italy. Completing the look are red brick walls, sturdy wooden furniture, and a comfy bar overlooking the open stainless steel kitchen. Burrata has, on all counts, successfully pulled off an industrial chic vibe that is simultaneously polished and accessible.
The menu at Burrata is inspired by authentic Italian cuisine with a touch of contemporary sophistication teased out by head chef Annemarie Steenkamp. A good example of this is the Pick-Me-Up, Burrata’s own take on tiramisu: a scoop of smooth dark chocolate mousse with a coffee-and-brandy-infused milk chocolate centre. If that doesn’t already sound like a pick-me-up in earnest, the added bonus of crushed cocoa nibs and mascarpone sorbet will tip you over. Featuring a similar kind of precision is the Arancini Risotto Balls with Lemon Aioli, declared “perfect for sharing” by our waiter Ben. The deep-fried crispy exterior held together a melting combination of risotto, mozzarella, roasted yellow bellpepper and prosciutto ham. Despite the loaded flavour there was no hint of grease, and the neat little balls were served with bamboo skewers for easy dipping.
Gnocchi is one of those things that will never be a favourite of mine, but I decided to try my husband’s order anyway. It was just as fluffy as it’s supposed to be (the part I personally dislike, as it translates to “mushy” for me), but bland it was not, paired with a tasty cream sauce and a side of broccolini to help mop up the goodness. My Osso Bucco (R 146) was tough and chewy but, again, saved with the rich red wine jus and a side of beautiful celery risotto. What really set my little pork-and-apple-loving American heart singing, however, was the Risotto (R 96). Topped with a layer of dehydrated pork – crispy, almost cottony – for a textured look and nutty flavour, each bite of the cheesy risotto was lightened by the addition of fresh leek slivers. Two variations of tangy-sweet rounded out the heavier components of the dish: morsels of granny smith apple to complement the pork, and dehydrated currants for the parmesan.
Now let’s talk pizza. Burrata is not the place to go if what you prefer is the usual cheese-covered monstrosity. Neapolitan style pizzas are delicate, minimally topped beauties with charred crusts – a product of the aforementioned pizza oven and its ability to bake at surface-of-the-sun type temperatures. The puffy base of our Margherita Pizza (R 68) was chewy on top and crispy on the bottom, with the tomato sauce running on the thinner side as a fresh canvas for the hunks of melted mozzarella on top.
Another highlight at Burrata is the wine, which should come as no surprise since it is owned by none other than Neil Grant, former sommelier at the award-winning Rust en Vrede Estate. Handpicked selections of wine are listed in thoughtful categories such as “The Italian Battalion” or the “The Forgotten Few”, and personal pairing recommendations come from the expert himself. He also runs a tight team of servers who, boosted by the constant rapport, are full of good cheer while providing smooth, unobtrusive service.
It’s worth noting that despite the fact it is mere steps away from the highly regarded Potluck Club and the Test Kitchen, Burrata holds its own by securing a strategic middle ground that other Cape Town eateries have yet to nail. Pricing remains judicious while the kitchen is dedicated to fine, creative offerings, and overall ambience is easygoing yet put-together. As a date spot, it says, “I like you a lot but there’s no need to be awkwardly serious about it.” As a hangout spot, it’s the perfect excuse to order an array of pizzas between your pals and sample each of them. As for me, I’ll be going back for that risotto and maybe a glass or two of wine.
by Esther Lim
Burrata, The Old Biscuit Mill, 373-375 Albert Road, Woodstock
Contact: 021 447 6505 or firstname.lastname@example.org