I was looking for a brand new restaurant in De Waterkant, and landed at Stepbrothers Ristorante, it being a new Italian restaurant, bar, and deli, in error. I decided to lunch there, to get a feel for the restaurant, which opened six months ago.
The first person I encountered inside the restaurant was Ronald, in the street level bar area, and I immediately noticed that he was chewing gum, a pet hate. A comment I made about it did not go
down well, and he sulked throughout my time at the restaurant, ignoring me, not answering any questions, and being close to downright rude. As he was the only waiter, he could not be replaced. After I spoke to his boss, he did remove the gum, before coming to my table again.
Giono Vessio owns the restaurant with his stepbrother Barry Fuchs, the former being the Italian. Giono’s mamma was in the restaurant, visiting from Italy. Giono told me that he and his family came to South Africa when he was ten years old, but his parents returned to their home country Italy three years ago. Giono came to chat, explaining the menu to me, and offered that I take the menus with me, when I asked for a print-out of them. Giono joked that he cooks the food, and Barry the books! Two chefs run the kitchen, however, Edward Lloyd and Jonathan Barnard, the menu informs.
A few steps down one enters the restaurant and Deli section. A Deli sign is attached to one end of the kitchen counter. I asked Ronald what Deli items they sell, and he informed that they are not yet selling Deli items, despite being open for six months already.
The restaurant is a large square space, with an industrial feel, with grey walls, a grey open ceiling with fans, with ropelines to which were attached grey corks as one would see on a fishing net, but its purpose unclear. Two decor aspects stood out – a patterned kitchen counter in the Italian colours of green, white, and red, and one wall with works of art by Richard Scott. The five works are called the ‘Joy Ride Collection’, and feature the well-known Italian Vespa scooter. The tables have dark brown stained tops, with beige chairs. A grey banquette covers one wall. The Sea Salt grinder is by Goldcrest, while the black pepper grinder had the branding removed and the restaurant name stuck on it. A glass held two leaves from two different trees, which the owner Giono did not know the names of. Cutlery is by La Vie. Paper serviettes are offered! On the walls are photographs of stars, some Italian such as Sophia Loren, and others such as Humphrey Bogart. Two big candle chandeliers stand in the restaurant, but have no candles in them!
There are two laminated menus, and if Giono had not explained it, I would not have known the difference. The A4 menu is the lunch one, and its prices reflect smaller-sized dishes relative to the larger A3 dinner menu with higher prices and larger portions for the same dishes. On the Dinner menu is an acknowledgement of their five top suppliers: Ryan Boon, supplying meat and poultry, coming from farms on which the animals can roam freely and feed off a ‘forage-based diet’; Puglia, supplying cheeses, cream, and butter, made from the milk of cows which are grass ‘feed‘, and free roaming; Usana eggs, laid by happy free roaming chickens which forage their food in the fresh air and sunlight; fresh produce is sourced from Naturally Organic, an ‘organic and rejunative farm’; and Richard Bosman supplies cured meats, bacon, and pork sausage, not using preservatives or curing agents in his products. I asked about Rialto, and Giono said that they source a few products from the supplier, mainly the pizza flour imported from Italy. Giono said that all their meat dishes are prepared on a Braai.
The dinner menu introduces the restaurant, ‘the tightest that two friends can be invite you into their home from home’ (sic). ‘Their way into your heart is with a flavorsone hearty, authentic style of Italian food and their welcoming arms’. The Dinner menu has dishes marked as their Signature dishes, but these (same) dishes are not marked as such on the Lunch menu. The Dinner menu also states some dishes are ‘halal‘ (sic) and gluten-free. Diners are invited to inform the restaurant of allergies and dietary requirements. Dishes are prepared to order, so may take a while longer (up to 45 minutes, the menu warns) to be served, as they do not have a microwave in the kitchen.
I ordered Nonna’s Rosette (R95 Lunch menu, R145 on the Dinner menu), which Giono recommended, and is a favorite recipe created by his grandmother. It consists of five pasta rolls with shoulder ham, rolled and baked in a delicious Parmigiano sauce, with a crispy crust. It was delicious, a good wintry comfort food dish, but boring in presentation – a green herb leaf could have added a touch of colour! The portion size was a perfect one for lunch. The Lunch Menu consists largely of pasta dishes, with ravioli, gnocchi, arrabiata, pomodoro, and more being available, in a price range of R50 – R95. Focaccia is charged at R20 for two. Salads come in piccolo size, at R45 – R50, and regular size, priced at R85 – R125. Various focaccia tramezzino sandwiches can be ordered, costing between R55 and R80. A pizza of the day can be ordered, but prices and ingredient combinations are not specified.
The Dinner menu offers an Antipasto platter at R150 for two; the same pasta and salad choices as on the Lunch menu; Karoo lamb chops (R165); and T-bone on an SQ basis.
There was a promise of desserts such as Tiramisu and Trifle, but both were out of stock. The Lunch menu has no dessert section, but the Dinner menu has three options, of which I chose Mamma’s Chocolate Salami (R45), described as a ‘childhood favourite’. It was made with biscuits, rum, espresso, and cocoa, pressed into a salami, and then served in very thin long slices rather than round ones, so thin that each slice crumbled off the plate. No cutlery was offered for the dessert, so I had to use the coffee teaspoon. It was promised to be served with an Americano on the menu, which did not arrive. I ordered a dry cappuccino, which Waiter with the Attitude served in an espresso cup and saucer initially, and then in a standard cappuccino cup, but not with a lot of froth, so he finally returned with the correct cappuccino. The Richard Scott cappuccino cup is very attractive. Other dessert options are Moro Gelato (three scoops cost R70); and Torta Puro, a gluten-free chocolate soufflé and fondant mix, at R50.
Breakfast is served, with two options: omelet with three or four fillings at R75; and a Farmhouse Breakfast with eggs, bacon, halloumi, tomato, and focaccia, at R65.
The winelist is handwritten on a blackboard hung on the wall. It is riddled with errors, and no vintages are specified. Red and white House wines cost R30 by the glass and R100 per bottle. The brand is not specified. The egg supplier is also the wine supplier Usana, their ‘Pino’ (sic) Gris and Chenin Blanc costing R55/R180; the (Warwick) First Lady Chardonnay is unbranded and costs R155. ‘Byerskloof’ (sic) Pinotage costs R45/R150; the ‘Dimersfontein’ (sic) Pinotage is priced at R185; Warwick Merlot costs R200; and Vergelegen Shiraz sells at R185.
It concerned me that I was the only diner at lunchtime, for a newish restaurant, and how it would survive a winter which officially starts in just over two weeks. With the attitude of Ronald, I can not imagine that any past customers who have experienced him and his attitude will return. He did not fill up my water, and seemed to sulk throughout my time in the restaurant, having no passion for his job!
Stepbrothers Deli, Locando, Bar. Corner Waterkant and Chiappini Streets, Cape Town. Cell 079 888 7200. Facebook. Instagram: @stepbrothers_cpt Monday 9h00 -16h00, Tuesday – Saturday 9h00 – 23h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein