But this connection is complex. It must nurture nostalgia for the moments we cherish while creating memories that we may carry away and recount at length at yet another table, and eventually weave them into the cherished connection that embraces food, family, and friends.
For nearly 20 years, Balducci on the V&A Waterfront has been making this connection. It is in their soul. The food is based on the essentially Italian notion that the best food is found at home. And so they have created a home for family and friends. Some return time and time again to the table just to eat a plate of the famous Balducci Pasta—a classic dish of pasta turned in a light Parmigiano cream with sundried tomatoes, olives, chilli, and garlic. Or they hunger for the Dalla Griglia Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs.
But despite the name and traditional approach, they don’t see themselves as an Italian restaurant. There is really no such thing as Italian cooking—it is regional and two cities in Italy separated by less than 100km may serve food as different as the various offerings you will find at Balducci. They are devotees to what the doyen of Italian food, Marcella Hazan, described as “the Italian art of eating”, which requires “generosity… patience… and the best raw materials”. They source only the best produce for their table.
Some friends visit only for our Asian noodles and tapas, swearing that the popular Chicken with Soy & Ginger is unmatched. Or claim that they can’t leave the table without a plate of the Balducci Japanese Salad, paired perhaps with a Portofino Pizza from the wood-fired oven.
Food invariably requires wine. You may get lost in the pages of the wine list but as at any good family table, there is always someone who knows just what to order. At the Balducci table just speak to one of the experienced sommeliers.
Balducci has recently re-styled the restaurant, bringing in award-winning architect Stefan Antoni whose brief was to bring it in line with a contemporary take on classic décor and design while incorporating modern African graphics, raw industrial finishes, luxurious leather and bleached wood. Balducci has been entered for the international Restaurant and Bar Design 2014/15 awards. Previous winners include London’s culinary landmark The Magazine—designed by Zaha Hadid Architects—and the Beagle, to name but two. And, hot-off-the-press, they have been shortlisted for these awards, with the winners being announced in October 2015.
Be sure to stop by at the newly renovated Asian Tapas, Noodle and Sushi Bar adjacent to Balducci. Reputed to be the best on the Waterfront, this little gem has also undergone a major revamp by architect Stefan Antoni and typifies a small signature designed Japanese and Asian Restaurant and Bar. The sushi here is the real McCoy and only fresh authentic ingredients are used by the brigade of Japanese and Asian Chefs.
Balducci has made other changes. You can now start your day and come down to the table to have breakfast, whether you’re in need of a real fruit smoothie which comes in five awesome flavours – including frozen berries and banana & custard, a healthy breakfast served with fresh fruit, honey and topped with Bulgarian yoghurt, or a classic English breakfast. Or arrive a bit later for the Balducci’s Brunch—sirloin, chicken wings, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, fried egg, plus a lot more.
Friday always comes as a relief, and if you’re looking to get ready for the weekend, then drop by for some live music presented by Coda Africa from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Enjoy a drink, maybe some tapas. But relax; it’s your table, and you are here to unwind to the musical perfection of four of the city’s most professional musicians. Listen and love the sounds of internationally acclaimed Anjulie (electric cello), classically trained musicians Galina and Renate (electric violin), and the highly sought-after Judy (saxophone), who on Fridays form two duos that each perform a 45-minute set.
Balducci’s: Shop 6162, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Tel: (021) 421 6002/3