Review: Meloncino

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An Italian Restaurant that I would recommend to Italians
By Pam McOnie of Cape Fusion Tours (tailormade tours for the gourmet-inclined)

I first heard about Meloncino from an Italian visitor to Cape Town.  He raved that the meal that he had at Meloncino was the best Italian meal he had had in South Africa, and for that matter as good as what he would find back home, if not better.  A high compliment from a discerning Italian!  As such a few months later we went down to try it out.  Being a bit budget constrained at the time we simply shared a pizza and a salad.  It was nice, but did not blow us away completely.  However we absolutely loved the chic setting of the restaurant – funky couches outside and slick design.  As such we have been back a couple of times for drinks.

Daisy Ions (from www.whatsonincapetown.co.za, the definitive guide to Cape Town) and I returned for dinner at Meloncino in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, on Monday 4th April. I was completely blown away by all aspects of the evening – which does not happen often!   The host Alberto di Grisostomo, a former Italian diplomat, adds genuine Italian warmth to the restaurant.   For anyone who finds the menu daunting (all the dishes names are in Italian – but are combined with great English translations) – simply tap into Alberto for recommendations on the menu – and you won’t go wrong. He was an extremely friendly and charming host, and speaks no less than five languages.  Simply follow his advice and you will have one of the best Italian meals you have ever had in Cape Town.  Our waiter for the evening was Dingani. He is extremely proud of the food at this restaurant – we had excellent service all through the evening – and he was knowledgeable, passionate and unobtrusive – the perfect combination.

We started with a handmade Pizza Focaccia con Rosmarino e Sale.  This we paired with Prosciutto con Gelato di Grana Padano– small cones of Parma ham wrapped with a filling of marscapone and parmesan cheese. It was a delicious taste sensation and I would highly recommend visiting just to taste it. This was followed by a second course of the artichoke salad (which we shared) – an explosion of colour, beautifully presented and plated. We then shared a main course of Spaghetti Scoglio con Pomedori Pachino Gamberi. This was a spectacular dish. It is presented in a bag tied with a ribbon so it almost feels like a present arriving at the table. With a sense of ceremony it is opened and placed on the plate. This was the best seafood pasta I have ever eaten – despite having been to Italy at least 10 times. Amazing! Note that they make their own fresh pasta on the premises and have Italian chefs.  The difference is in the taste – sensational.

We ended with the sorbets – a trio of fruit flavours – once again mouthwatering flavours and a perfect crystalline texture, also made on the premises. A great ending to a great meal.

Meloncino also boasts one of the best views of the Waterfront harbour, and has a feeling of being separate from the shopping mall – a formula that works for me as I hate eating in a shopping mall.   So the moral of the story is – don’t visit a place once to eat and not pop back again, you may have missed one of Cape Town’s gems – and Meloncino is definitely a gem.

Clearly the combination of having an Italian as one of the owners and three Italian Chefs all from different regions in Italy, as well as importing the best ingredients and having an aim of making everything that they can from scratch is a winning formula.  I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone – even extreme foodies from Italy.

Contact details: Location V&A Main Mall upstairs facing the harbour, V&A Waterfront,  Tel +27 21 419 5558.  Make sure you book – they were busy even on a Monday night!  www.meloncino.co.za

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