My friend Tony Ward and I went to try the month-old Giulio’s Italian restaurant on Loop Street yesterday, and we were charmed by the down-to-earth friendliness from mother and son owners Giulio and Franca Loreggian.
I noticed the use of the olive branch and wreaths to bring Italy into the restaurant, given the Loreggian’s Italian descent. We were lucky that the Giulio’s interior designer, Micheal Chandler from Chandler House (which had impressed me at Kamers at the Castle last year), was at the restaurant. He met Giulio’s brief of wanting a white restaurant. They are partners, and therefore he had a good understanding of his ‘client’s’ design needs. It is his first interior design project, saying that he is self-taught. The olive branch is part of the logo, sandblasted on the entrance doors, embroidered on the aprons, decorating the menu, and printed on the paper on which the pork belly was brought to the table. An olive tree stood in a gold-coloured pot near us, and plants were in gold pots elsewhere in the restaurant too. What attracts attention immediately, but which my photograph did not do justice to, is a centrally hung gold extra-large olive branch wreath/halo. The tables have marble tops, and the legs mirror the Roman columns they created inside the restaurant. Seating is white metal and beautiful tan leather, covering window seat benches, stools, and chairs, giving the interior splashes of colour and modernity.
A ‘Fifties Strega poster against a brick wall adds colour and interest. The wall we were facing had a collection of wooden cooking spoons, which a Zimbabwean had sold to them. Above it were little Italian touches, including simply three books, one covered in green, another in white, and a third in red cloth, giving the Italian colors. Large Italian tomato tins add colour underneath the daily food table trolley. Near us was a collection of plates, which reflects a lucky card in a Neapolitan card game called Sette Bello. The coin motive was picked up in the button back detail in the leather backs of the banquettes. Every decor item has a reason, overall reflecting that the food at Giulio’s is simple, fabulous, good, honest, and ultimately Italian, Michael explained. Important to him is that everything they created for the decor is locally sourced.
The table had a salt and a pepper grinder, a vase with lavender and roses, a bottle each of unbranded olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a fiber serviette. Giulio said they had six weeks to transform his restaurant from the previous My Basaar, and was not very complimentary about the state and cleanliness of the kitchen which they inherited, and there was no flow to allow patrons to move between tables.
Giulio’s father, and two sisters are accountants, which he was destined to study as well, but he ‘did not want to see numbers‘, he told us. He was born and bred in Johannesburg, but decided to study in Cape Town. He went to the SA Chefs Academy, and experienced Chefs Garth Stroebel and Paul Hartmann there, valuable training for his new career. As a teenager he was a presenter on an educational TV show. Franca has worked in IT, but has always dreamt of a corner café. Giulio was in the kitchen with his mom as much as he could whilst living at home. Franca gave up her job when Giulio prepared the restaurant opening, and insisted on coming to Cape Town, to be her son’s right hand.
Lunch is served between 12h00 and 15h30. The lunch menu is printed on cream hard-board, providing good detail of all the ingredients (note: there is chili in many dishes), and offers dishes, a Bake of the day, as well as special combinations. Tony chose Giulio’s creamy peri-peri chicken livers, with brandy-flambéed chicken livers in a chili and mushroom and Pomodoro sauce, topped with Italian parsley and served with toasted ciabatta (R58). Tony enjoyed the dish but picked up the inclusion of truffle oil, which he does not like, yet ate the whole dish. Aglio e Oglio spaghetti with fresh cherry tomatoes and a white wine sauce costs R65.
The Mangia (to eat) Table has five different salads, a choice of three (I chose a spinach salad, Caprese salad, and a vegetable salad) costing R50, and a slice of pork belly (my choice), roast chicken, lamb, or beef costs R15, excellent value.
The burger sounds delicious, with chicken or beef, caramelised onion, garlic mayo, melanzane, and chips, good value at R75, with added prosciutto or mozzarella offered at a small charge. We saw a photograph with a burger and onion rings. Spaghetti bolognaise costs R85; Parma ham on ciabatta R55; an open lamb wrap with hummus, chili mushrooms, and more costs R85; chicken and linguine R75, pasta with Pomodoro, olives, chilli, capers, and oregano costs R69; and penne Napoletana R60. Dessert options are limited, including yogurt panna cotta, with berries (R55), and Frutta Di Bosca, macerated berries flambeéd in Kirsch and served with an artisanal sorbet (R45). Cake of the day is available at R30.
Giulio’s will deliver within a 1 km radius, and has connected with orderin.co.za, which will do deliveries within 5 – 10 km.
Tony and I felt so at home at Giulio’s, we could not stop chatting, and they came to check on us regularly. One would be guaranteed that either Giulio or Franca will be in the restaurant, offering their charming hospitality to their patrons. Tony and I both said that we will go back.
Giulio’s, 16 Loop Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 418-6304. Website and Twitter to be finalized. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here