Il Localino’m sure I must miss out on lots of great eating experiences because my partner judges a restaurant by its crowds.
If it’s empty we walk on by, because he’s adamant that people would be flocking in if it was any good. Not necessarily, I argue, maybe they just haven’t discovered it yet and we’ll be the ones enjoying a little eureka moment.
Still, when we couldn’t get a table at Il Localino one evening we both agreed it was worth another look. So we secured a booking for a Saturday night and arrived with high expectations.
The public knows its stuff on this one. Il Localino manages to hit the perfect balance where good food comes with a nice vibe, the prices don’t make you blanch and the décor is interesting without being intrusive.
I sent our eager waiter away once before I’d made my drink selection and twice while I dithered over the dishes. He cottoned on after that and left us alone for a while.
One of the first things I noticed was the comfortable cushioned wicker chairs, which feel like a deliberate invitation to linger. The restaurant has a light, airy feel indoors as well as on the patio, where we ate in the protection of large pull-down window blinds.
The wine list offers several options in small carafes, and comes separate from the inventive but cumbersome flip-over menu. That’s when the real dilemma began. I love gnocchi and wanted to try Il Localino’s semolina version. A good risotto always wins me over too. Then there were a couple of tempting fish dishes, and I also wanted to taste some of the side dishes.
I went with Involtini di Pollo, a flattened chicken breast rolled around apricots and Brie at R85. It comes with one choice of side dish, so I got my risotto and found it gorgeously light and creamy.
The chicken arrived looking like a giant spring roll. It was beautifully tender and the Brie and apricot flavours provided welcome flashes of tang, although more of that fine filling would have been a bonus.
My partner went with filleted cob, which was the special of the day, and chose a side dish of broccoli dressed with chili and garlic. He added an extra side dish of homemade tagliatelle too, declaring that it just isn’t right for a man not to have his carbohydrates.
The fish was superbly moist and flavoursome so I nicked several mouthfuls. The broccoli was also good, although the chili tingle was a bit too tingly on the tastebuds to swim well with the fish. That evoked a look of smug vindication from across the table, because the added pasta complemented the cob brilliantly.
Il Localino serves its desserts in small or regular sizes, which is a nice touch if you don’t want to overdo it. We did want to overdo it, but applied some restraint and ordered a regular tiramisu between us. Its full name is Tiramisu with a Twist, with the twist being the addition of hot chocolate and Amarula. I’d have been poured on more of both, but I do have a wicked sweet tooth.
The pleasant buzz at Il Localino was thinning by now, yet we lingered even after the crowds had gone. Sometimes you don’t need a throng to have a good time.
Il Localino, Hobart Grove Centre, Corner of Hobart & Grosvenor Roads, Bryanston