Zafferano's is a delectable combination of comestibles and collectables, writes Madi Hanekom
. THE INTRODUCTION:
Driving through Groenkloof you'll come across a lovely country-style shopping centre just off George Storrar Drive. No multi-storey concrete dovecotes of shops and no traffic congestion; just a tempting cluster of small businesses within easy walking distance of each other and ample parking. It is to the far-eastern part of the complex - a charming boulevard of restaurants - that you want to head.
. THE PROPOSAL:
Zafferano's Chef Luigi Marchini and maître d' Riaan Luiters offer an Italian look and feel that is hard to beat and successfully combine delicious bites and collectable pieces under one roof. You can sit outside on the spacious wooden deck or inside where you can browse for unusual decorative pieces and paintings while your dish is prepared.
Besides the reliably good standard items such as pasta, salads and burgers, there is an array of specialities. These include the mouth-watering veal pepe (prepared in coarse peppercorns, flambéed in brandy and cream, and served with fettucini alla crema), oxtail, calamari and a range of zivas (Yemeni layered bread, toasted with a filling and folded). Marchini is an art lover, so he decided to name his zivas after famous South Africans; you'll meet Maggie Laubser, Walter Battiss and Frans Claerhout.
Zafferano's is not licensed yet, so get your tipple of choice beforehand at the liquor store a few metres away.
. THE CONSUMMATION:
We ordered two of Marchini's signature dishes and devoured both. I chose an Irma Stern ziva (R56) and savoured the Cajun chicken, feta cheese and avocado mixture - a heavenly piece of art served with salad and melanzane (aubergine). My companion had the oxtail (R95) and promptly declared it "worthy of a king".
We each also thoroughly enjoyed a glass of imported Italian fruit juice (peach and apple nectar). The ample servings left no room for dessert, but from previous visits we know the tiramisu and beetroot-and-cranberry cake are equally scrumptious.
. THE CONSEQUENCES:
The bill came to a very reasonable R230.
. THE CULPRIT:
"Why the food and décor combo?" I asked Marchini, a food business veteran of 27 years who has worked as chef at restaurants such as Jazz Time Café, Bugatti's and Giovanni's. Smiling, he replied that when he started Zafferano's about three years ago with Luiters, he had wanted to concentrate on interiors. However, his love of food started to intrude and so the shop was soon transformed into the delightful combination it is today.
And why did he choose a career as a chef? "My grandmother, Georgina Lombardi, who emigrated from Italy in the early 1900s, inspired me to learn how to bake and cook and shared the wonderful family recipes with me. I just had to become a chef!"
. WHERE IT HAPPENED:
Zafferano Coffee Shop & Interiors,
Shop 1A Groenkloof Forum Building,
57 George Storrar Drive, Groenkloof, Pretoria.
Breakfast and lunch, Mondays to Saturdays Tel: 0123461904; www.zafferanointeriors.co.za