Johannesburgers do not need to go to Italy to taste the renaissance on the tongue because there is a new Italian restaurant in town.

La Pergola, meaning the garden house or the arbour, is a new Italian restaurant that opened its doors in mid-March at the 44 Stanley precinct in Braamfontein Werf.

Located at the corner opposite the JFF plant shop, on entering the new food spot, one is welcomed by a chequered black and white floor with overflowing pot plants hovering over one’s head as it would in an arbour. With classical music playing in the background, the walk to your table soothes the day’s tiredness away.

The interior of the restaurant is in an L-shape, with five stand-alone tables and three tables in a row against a long couch, providing the choice in seating. Depending on where you are seated, you would either have the view of the wood-fired pizza oven accompanied by a delightful smell or that of the in-house bar with dessert pieces on display.

On a day when it’s not raining, you also would have the option to sit outside with the view of the neighbouring shops and an ambience of birds singing in the trees dotted all around the precinct.

Even though a student’s bubble would burst at the sight of the prices on the menu, young professionals would appreciate the modern dining experience that the restaurant offers. To have this full experience, you would need R200 set aside for the main course and R100 for either the starter or the dessert. To include a drink, any amount from R10 – which I paid for warm water with lemon – will do. All in all, for two people dining, at least R600 would suffice.

Written in green on a white background, representative of two colours on the Italian flag, the menu boasts a list of Mediterranean dishes. From soups and antipasti (platter of morsels to be enjoyed before the main meal), to pasta, pizza and dessert, the dishes encapsulate the rich Italian food culture.

To appetise you as you wait for your ordered meal, you are served bruschetta which is an antipasto of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and garnished with olive oil and salt. This was tasty enough to be eaten on its own with no topping.

I ordered the chef’s special – Caesar salad. Laid out on iceberg lettuce in a medium-sized bowl, are usually croutons, Parmesan cheese, bacon and greens, drizzled with a homemade dressing. What I liked about this dish is that I could customise my salad to perfectly suit my pesce-pollotarian diet which excludes red meat but includes chicken and seafood. As top-ups to the salad, I could add either a grilled chicken fillet or steamed shrimp, both of which work for me. It came at a cost though – an additional R88 for the former and R92 for the latter, on top of the R126 that I was already paying for the salad (bacon excluded). Besides being constrained by a student budget, the salad, topped up with the chicken fillets, was my only course as it was filling.

Throughout the indulgence, the waiter checked up on me regularly to see if I needed anything. This was only a continuum of the stellar service I had received from the minute I had walked through the door to that of my order arriving shortly after it was placed on the waiter’s tablet. 

At La Pergola, you are guaranteed the feeling of being in Rome among the skyscrapers of Johannesburg.


FEATURED IMAGE:   The interior of La Pergola resembles an arbour with pot plants hanging from the ceiling. Photo: Keamogetswe Matlala