I love Italian food. And nothing excites me more than the prospect of Italian food cooked the traditional way. This is what you get when you go to Da Graziella’s in Dowerglen.
The restaurant is located street side beneath a block of flats and immediately on parking your car you are greeted by warm yellow light, the sound of dozens of voices and the delicious scents of freshly made pizza. The decor is dated and filled with the requisite scenes of Italy but I find it adds to the authenticity of this Italian eatery.
Service was a bit slow. It seemed that the waiters weren’t designated a specific area to work so their tables were far apart with the result that they weren’t always around when you looked for them.
The wine list is nothing special and take my word for it, do not drink the wine by the glass! However their sangria is lovely and packed with sweet alcohol soaked fruit.
My husband and I decided to immerse ourselves in the spirit of the restaurant so we tried a few of their typically traditional Italian dishes.
For starters we had the arancini which is a ball of rice with mince meat, mozzarella and peas which is then deep fried. The presentation was not fantastic. It seems that a few lettuce leaves and tomato slices serve as the plate decorations for most dishes. The arancini itself was tasty however was not made in the traditional fashion with arborio rice but rather with regular rice. After expecting a classic dish of sticky cheesy arborio rice I was left a bit disappointed.
For mains I ordered a regina pizza and my hubby ordered a special calzone. The calzone comes with a smorgasbord of fillings which to me sounds off-putting but is right up my husbands alley. Ham, pineapple and mushrooms sit side by side with ricotta, artichokes and bacon. Despite all the fillings the calzone did lack flavour and my husband had to salt it quite vigorously.
Dessert was another opportunity to try some Italian classics. We decided to share a tiramisu and a Sicilian Cannolo. The tiramisu was tasty but I always find that the bottom layer of this dessert becomes soggy and un-appetising. I suppose if you like tiramisu generally, then this is not a bad offering.
The Sicilian Cannolo is a rare find in Johannesburg. I’ve seen them on Cake Boss and was dying to try one. It is traditionally a pastry tube filled with a creamy ricotta cheese filling and pistachios, fruit or chocolate. The offering at Da Graziella fell a bit short of the expectation for me. There was a good amount of candied fruit and pistachios which sweetened the otherwise bland ricotta. The pastry shell was lovely and crispy and not overly oily. But for me the biggest diappointment was the cream itself which was dense and bland and not light and creamy as expected. The whole thing was also drowned in icing sugar to compensate for the lack of sweetness within the filling but this hid the beauty of a cannolo dotted with pistachios and fruit at the open ends.
The one point that cannot be taken from Da Graziella is that they do offer a number of Italian dishes which you would be hard pressed to find at any other restaurant.The execution of these dishes however does not always live up to my hopes for them. I have been here a few times and enjoy the ambience and the authenticity of the food but I can’t say that anything was truly out of this world. A solid back-stop for a cozy evening out in the Edenvale area.
overall rating 3/5
011 454 6202
74 Dunvegan Ave