Nestled in the suburb of Melville, Johannesburg, lives a family-run traditional trattoria with a divine menu, extensively packed with pastas, and pizzas as you may expect from an Italian restaurant but includes a huge number of choices of bruschettas, insalatas, and meat plates that pronounce the restaurant’s flair, creativity, and attention to excellence.
Eating as I am trying to do now Ketogenically (pace Nora Gedgaudas: no dietary starches, no carbohydrates; just good-quality fats, moderate proteins, and plenty of leafy vegetables) I have been faced with challenges ordering satisfying dishes in many places that successfully avoid what I need to avoid and provide an attractive meal, but here it was easy and the trattoria is more than accommodating when it comes to responding to requests to alter or substitute specific ingredients on the menu.
On our first visit I chose the chicken liver pâté, on lettuce rather than crostini, together with the large avocado caesar salad, minus the croutons. I doused it in garlic, perfect for my taste. Mum ate chicken breast rolled in sun-dried tomato with blanched vegetables. Ian ate pizza, and put too much chilli on it which gave him hiccups.
For our second visit I ordered the pork belly, substituting the mash for a salad. This dish is delicious and had me thanking the heavens I was choosing it nearly by necessity as regards my new eating regime. Again I ladled it with garlic from the pots they provide as extras. Mum ate baked macaroni cheese, commenting that she had never had a version of the dish so good (until reminded with a pointed look that she had been prepared this dish many times by individuals sat around the table). Ian had the meatball spaghetti, sensibly avoiding the addition of too much chilli this time and washed it down with a carafe of red Sangria. All dishes struck perfect pitch.
The trattoria is festooned in Roman Catholic art and iconography, adding to the rich feast for the senses. We have been to the restaurant twice now and on the second occasion, a rainy day in Johannesburg, we sat inside under the image of Madonna of the Sacred Heart.
I regret not finding out the name of the waitress who served us on both visits, she was kind, helpful, friendly, and perfectly attentive – from Malawi to Melville: she will know who she is if she reads this and Picobella, we will certainly be back the next time we are in Josie.