I have to be honest and admit that Iâ€™ve never been the biggest fan of Italian cuisine and when asked why, my usual response is that I can make most of those meals at home. Pasta, some white or red sauce, mushrooms and a meat of some sort really doesnâ€™t appear too difficult to throw together myself, and so I usually go for something slow braised or a meat that we donâ€™t usually stock at home. That is until I tried Gema Trattoria & Pizzeria Restaurant.
My wife and I were invited to lunch a few days ago by some friends who insistedÂ Gema Trattoria & Pizzeria Restaurant was the go-to Italian restaurant in Joburg, so I couldnâ€™t help but take my camera along. I never miss an opportunity to let our readers in on a hidden gem and I can now affirm that they are anything but average!
Located along the quaint Queen Street strip, the building is small and unassuming like so many other great restaurants in this city. Iâ€™ve long stopped associating glamour with flavour and itâ€™s served me well so far. The interior is the same: they have a deli stocking authentic Italian charcuterie, olives and cheeses and a small but intimate seating area which fills up at lunch and dinner. Booking a table is advised!
Taking a look at the menu I was immediately impressed with the selection although it didnâ€™t quite live up to the hype. That was until my friends pointed out that thereâ€™s a big chalkboard display up on the wall boasting both daily and seasonal items and these meals are absolutely amazing! These regional treats are the things that Italian dreams are made of. Weâ€™re talking rabbit polenta with veg; oxtail polenta with roast potato; eland and kudu stew; lamb stinco with roast veg and Baccala with roast potato to name a few. Real fans of Mediterranean food will think theyâ€™ve died and gone to heaven.
They have all the classic desserts like tiramisu and tartufo on offer but I think special mention must go to their authentic gelatos and sorbets. They have a bunch of exotic flavours and the best part is that they donâ€™t mind you mixing and matching flavours on your plate. Salute!
All in all we were impressed. I didnâ€™t hear one complaint from our table and the service was excellent. Our one buddy ordered a double espresso to finish and did mention that he felt the roast was a bit burnt for his liking, but I imagine that was just a mistake on the day, as batches of coffee are rarely the same from day to day in general. They even allowed us to split the bill at the end which is always nice considering the alternative which is actually drawing cash (god forbid)!
Serious Italian fans should make sure to go through to Kensington soon for a taste of some authentic Italian flavours, not to mention grabbing a couple of delightful deli treats on your way out. You wonâ€™t be disappointed.
Address: 143 Queen Street, Kensington
Contact: 011 622 9716