One of my favourite things about living in Joburg was the Italian food. I lived in the City of Gold for just over 3 years and while I was there I ate my weight in authentic Italian pizza and pasta. There’s a huge Italian community in Joburg so finding a great Italian restaurant is easy peasy. But, while it feels like there’s an authentic Italian restaurant on every corner of Joburg, in Cape Town it takes a little more effort to find a truly exceptional Italian eatery. The kind of spot where the food screams “familia”, and they’re still honouring Nonna’s original recipes in the kitchen. 95 at Parks is that kind of Italian restaurant. Serving authentic Italian grub in a cosy cottage setting, this deep southern suburbs’ eatery is a hidden gem of note.
Bringing Chef-proprietor Giorgio Nava’s Milanese flair to the doorstep of the southern suburbs, 95 at Parks is truly one of the Italian greats on the Cape Town restaurant scene. Tucked away in a quaint Dutch-style cottage on Constantia Main Road, the eatery offers a cosy atmosphere to enjoy lunch, dinner, or after-work drinks and nibbles with friends. Wood-panelled walls coupled with quirky Italian-inspired prints and splashes of deep green and soft pinks, help to create an atmosphere of relaxed luxury in this Constantia gem. The warm, welcoming ambience the restaurant exudes makes it the ideal spot for intimate gatherings with family and friends.
The boyfriend and I recently visited the restaurant for the first time, to sample the new pizza menu and couldn’t believe this Italian treasure was hidden right under our noses for so long. Featuring six top-notch Italian classics, the new pizza menu at 95 at Parks offers real Italian pizza right here in Cape Town, no flight to Italy necessary! But, what makes this pizza so good? Besides using the finest ingredients chef Nava is known for, what sets the 95 at Parks pizzas apart is the enhanced flavour and light texture of the bases made from dough that is left to rest for 48 hours.
“Our pizzas have been leavened with a mother yeast and beer and then left for 48 hours. Resting the dough for two days, makes the pizzas much easier to digest and will never leave you feeling bloated,” says Nava, who has received nothing but praise for the 95 at Parks pizzas from his Italian friends.
We started our meal at 95 at Parks with the famous deep-fried Neapolitan Montanara (R100) to share. With a crispy base and rich Italian flavour, this Montanara, made in the authentic Neapolitan style, will ruin you for any future Montanara pizzas that dare to cross your lips. The base of this morish pizza is deep-fried until crisp and puffy before it is topped with customary Italian tomato sauce and mozzarella, baked in the pizza oven and finished off with fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and shavings of Grana Padano. The perfect deep-fried creation, this pizza is crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside. If you’re thinking deep-fried pizza sounds crazy, and oh-so-heavy, this heavenly Italian creation isn’t overly oily or too rich to eat.
The boyfriend, who considers himself somewhat of a pizza connoisseur, couldn’t stop telling me how delicious he thought this pizza was all through our lunch. He loved it so much I was fearful he would leave me to be alone with the Montanara. Needless to say, he wolfed down most of the dish, leaving me wanting more. Next time I’ll order one all to myself to avoid him taking the lion’s share of this tasty deep-friend delight.
As for the other pizzas on the menu, they may not be deep-fried, but they’re just as tasty. Italian tomatoes and the finest fiordilatte mozzarella are the basis of all the toppings for the pizzas on the new menu. We also got the opportunity to try the Prosciutto Crudo pizza with Parma ham and rocket, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil (R140), which was also scrumptious.
While many Western-style pizzas are loaded with toppings, which often serve to mask the flavour of a mediocre, flavourless pizza base, these simplistic creations from 95 at Parks prove that you don’t need a mountain of toppings to make a truly great pizza. Packed with flavour, the crispy bases, are the star of the show at 95 at Parks and the top-quality ingredients added atop the scrumptious base only serve to enhance the flavours of the base.
Other pizzas on the menu include a classic Margherita (enriched with basil, extra virgin olive oil and a handful of grated Grana Padano), Prosciutto Cotto (with delicate cooked ham), Siciliana (topped with anchovies, olives and capers), and Orto (topped with olives, grilled broccoli, spinach and mushrooms).
If pizza isn’t your thing, 95 at Parks also has a regular a la carte menu featuring a wide range of authentic Italian dishes waiting to be savoured. Priced from R100 to R140, the pizzas at 95 at Parks are available for dinner, Mondays to Saturdays, and for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays.
Find them at 114 Constantia Main Road, Constantia, Cape Town. For more information say Hi to 95 at Parks on Facebook.