Having had a birthday last week, my S.O. treated me not only a great Mellerware 3-in-1 Espresso Bar, but also a fantastic evening at an [tag]Italian restaurant[/tag] in Pinelands (Cape Town), called [tag]Magica Roma[/tag]. At first I was a bit skeptical about going there, thinking that the only reason for going there is due to the S.O. having a cousin that works there. Boy was I pleasantly surprised.
Parking at the restaurant is ample, and from the outside it looks nothing more than a grey building with tinted windows. Walking in we were greeted by a hostess, checked our reservation (do not try to go here if you did not make a reservation, booking a couple of days in advance for evening meals is advisable, also, they’re not open on Sundays), and seated in the non-smoking section. I was later surprised to find that they converted the smoking area into a non-smoking area earlier in the evening, kindly asking smokers to step outside to feed their addiction. They do this in the event of non-smokers outnumbering smokers. Loved that.
The setting at Magica Roma is traditional, low-volume music in the background. There was a Christmas get-together in the one upper area of the restaurant while we were there, with a couple of guys playing live musical instruments, traditional Italian music, with one or two other songs that I recognised as not Italian. There was some dancing going on, as well, so it seems to be quite a versatile venue.
Their menu headings and meal names are all in Italian, but it was fairly easy to figure out which bits were Starters, Pizza, Pasta, Salads, meats, etc, and there are descriptive English meanings. After mulling over the wine list for a few minutes, I opted out of having wine (I would have been the only one drinking, and there’d be no way that I’d be in any state of mind to focus on my dessert if I had to finish it by myself…), ordered a beer, and browsed the Starters. They have a nice focus on seafood across their whole menu, and I settled on the Baby Calamari tubs with garlic and chili. T had the Shrimp Cocktail. Wow. The baby calamari was absolutely stunning. It gets fried in the garlic and chili sauce, served with rice. I have never enjoyed a starter this much. The garlic was not overwhelming, and neither was the chili. It had just the right amount of bite to be a bit hot, but not enough so that my taste buds were scorched. There was sufficient garlic and chili sauce to mix in with the rice, and let’s face it, rice with sauce is just yum. T’s shrimp cocktail looked good, I tasted it, the shrimps seemed a bit too crunchy for my liking, but maybe that’s just me. It was server in a typical Thousand Island-type pink sauce.
Main course. This was a bit of a problem. There were so many dishes I wanted to try, choosing just one was near impossible. T settled on a 300g fillet, with a herb and garlic sauce, served with rice and veggies. I settled on their Tagliata Fiorentina, which is a sliced, grilled fillet in olive oil, balsamic and herb sauce, server with chips, no veggies (by choice). The Tagliata Fiorentina was great, a unique way for me to have fillet done. A bittersweet taste, soft meat. Great. T’s fillet was plain, covered in herb sauce, and a dollop of garlic on top, just as she likes it. There was a bit of a mix up with what exactly “Medium to Well Done” means, but Ezio, one of the partners that owns that restaurant, personally made sure that it was sorted out promptly. He’s a nice guy, and even came to chat with us a bit after the main meal. I wish I paid more attention during my Italian Language course, and practiced after the course, I’d have been able to at least greet him in Italian.
After the applause from several tables around the one behind us (One guy just proposed to his girlfriend, she said yes, and from then never took her eyes off of her ring…), it was time for dessert. One look at the menu, and I knew what I wanted. Creme Brulee, and a real Italian-made Cappuccino to wash it down. T’s been at Magica Roma with her cousin before, and that time, after ordering her own dessert, saw her cousin’s dessert choice: Spumone. Vanilla & chocolate ice cream, layered with meringue & dressed with hot chocolate sauce. That was T’s choice this time around. A nice touch was that both our desserts were served on the same, large oval plate. The Creme Brulee was made to perfection. Soft, not runny. Just enough burnt sugar crust, not over done. The Spumone I believe is a house-speciality, and looked fantastic, well dressed, soaked in a combination of chocolate and another, less chocolaty sauce. The cappuccino was also very nice. Properly done, with crema and the right amount of foam, not like other restaurants that only attempt to make a cappuccino. Magica Roma doesn’t try to make a cappuccino. They get it right.
All in all, I had a fantastic night there, the food was delicious, the service was excellent, the owners and staff were friendly, the venue was great, and I enjoyed every minute there. If you want a brilliant experience at a great restaurant with great food, go to Magica Roma in Pinelands, and ask for Chantal. She’s a great waitress, and will make sure that your experience at Magica Roma is well enjoyed. You can tell her that Aubrey (That’d be me) referred you to them.
It was a bit strange to go to an Italian restaurant and order a steak, but as I said, we were very spoilt for choice. Next time I go there, I will definitely consider the Baby Calamari tubes main course, or perhaps one of their delicious-sounding pastas.
www.dining-out.co.za has a page for Magica Roma, including their menu, some pictures of the restaurant and owners (Ezio, the friendly chap that we chatted to, is the guy on the right), and a map on how to get there. You will not be disappointed.