That's amore! Eateries that'll make you fall in love with Italian food all over again

If pasta and pizza be the food of love, eat on this Valentine’s month

13 February 2019 - 17:00
Find romance in carbs this Valentine's month with Saint's classic Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Find romance in carbs this Valentine's month with Saint's classic Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Image: Sylvia McKeown

Director Federico Fellini once said "life is a combination of magic and pasta" and we're sure a lot of you would agree. Light the spark of love with an intimate meal at one of these two Gauteng Italian eateries.


"We create a vibe," explains celebrity chef David Higgs, co-owner of Saint in Sandton. "And we want to create a vibe around something, like pizza, which is something that everybody eats, and elevate that experience."

Saint's wood-fired ovens make all the difference.
Saint's wood-fired ovens make all the difference.
Image: Elsa Young

The pizza is fresh and hot, served with a slightly charred edge and equal portions of cheese, sauce and panache. It’s an elevated experience alright, one that pairs well with the views of inner-city Joburg – and a cocktail in a goblet will surely impress your squeeze.

Higgs and fellow co-owner Gary Kyriacou’s bad-boy “pazzo (crazy) Italian” joint has recently expanded its menu. Although they change things up to keep in line with the fresh produce of the season, this is the first time since the smash opening in August last year that Saint’s head chef Matthew van Niekerk and senior chef de partie Tyler Clayton have had time to experiment and bring you new dishes to share, Lady and the Tramp style.

Now you can mop up their red-onion marmalade with lamb-stuffed arancini. Pair the joy of Italian sausage with an orb of burrata cheese and racy romesco sauce. And those looking for the lighter side of love can always opt for the crispy-skinned seabass in a vivid lemongrass and coconut sauce with grilled greens.

The veggies out there can’t go wrong with Saint’s cauliflower steak, grilled in a wood-fired oven, cheekily paired with earthy grilled mushrooms and parmesan custard. Or you could settle for their classic combo of margarita pizza and bubbly.

To make your booking at Saint, e-mail


Forti Grill & Bar in Time Square, Pretoria, is known for its delectable handmade pasta, stuffed with the freshest of ingredients, as well risotto and oxtail that falls off the bone. Accompany these with a fresh salad combining orange, fennel, rocket and olive oil. Enjoy your meal with, wine glass in hand, looking out over the metropolis that is our capital.

But you can call him Forti
Fortunato Mazzone But you can call him Forti
Image: Graeme Wyllie

You will find your fill of romance and tasty food at this restaurant, which mixes tradition with contemporary flare – and live opera singing from owner Fortunato “Forti” Mazzone himself. A fifth-generation restaurateur, Mazzone has spent a lifetime in the hospitality business.

You will have everything you need to make the most of your evening, from chairs specially made by BMW — "what’s more comfortable than a car seat?" — to the expertly stocked wine cellar and cigar humidor.

The same can be said for the menu, which has something for everyone — vegans included — with a generous choice of starters, pastas, pizzas, main dishes, grills, cheese platters and desserts.

The wine list features Forti’s signature house wine, a bright and fruity white which he makes in partnership with Nick van Huyssteen, owner of Saronsberg Wine Cellar in Tulbagh.

So, if you haven’t planned anything for February 14, try to nab a booking for Forti Grill & Bar’s exclusive three-course set-menu Valentine’s Day dinner. A bottle of French champagne is included and perhaps, if you play your cards right, you’ll be in for "dessert".

For bookings call 012-003-6180 or e-mail to