Tucked down the end of a cul-de-sac in the middle of the courts and legal district you find 95Keerom, which is located on Keerom Street.
Cheek by jowl with 95 are attorneys offices, legal services companies, Carne Restaurant (a sister restaurant to 95 Keerom) and the notorious Senator Apartments, a poisonous den of drug sellers, prostitution and criminal dealing.
Gangster types eye you shiftily from the steps as you park. But nothing to worry about, they just want to sell you something.
95Keerom itself has it’s own past, being a former slaves quarter to Company Gardens. The building was tastefully renovated and now you experience the warmth of the old redbrick combined with the sleek minimalism of designer wooden furniture and tables.
Downstairs is broken up into a number of small cozy rooms. Upstairs is a large open airy space, with an olive tree that needs some tlc dominating the floor space.
The menu is unashamedly northern Italian, reflecting owner Giorgio Nava’s origins. It’s divided logically into antipasta, carpaccio, pasta, fish, meat and side dishes.
Giorgio stands over the freshness and provenance of his food. Well you can’t get tuna and linefish carpaccio wrong, or it will be as obvious as the nose on your face. He fishes for his own fish (he owns a trawler) and farms his own beef (on his own farm). Our fellow diner, PR Guru Brian Berkman, related how Giorgio drove him up to his farm near Graff Reinet once, to show him his farm. They went there and back in a day. That’s 10 hours in a car, together.
We started with angel hair pasta with mussels and tomato. the pasta was as perfectly al dente as I have ever experienced in Cape Town. The gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts produced murmurs of appreciation. My tuna carpaccio was the best I have eaten.
An Ossobuco main was deliciously bedecked in a provencale style tomato and finely cut vegetable sauce. I shared a Fiorentina, a 1.2 kg T-Bone steak. The T-bone was served alongside the slivers of meat which were expertly sliced and served around the bone, and splashed with a little olive oil and herbs. The meat was flavoursome and tender, almost as good as Irish grass fed beef. You could tell it had been hung for weeks.
Brian chose a stunning bottle of Remhoogte Red blend, 09, which complimented the food wonderfully.
We kept a glass full for Giorgio, as he dropped by for a chat and a sip of wine during the evening.
He’s a tight wound up compact ball of Milanese energy. Down South , his prawn and ribs shack, is open on Monday on Long Street.
Is 95 Keerom the best Italian in Cape Town? There are one or two other ones that are also pretty good. But this is, by a clear head, the most authentic, with the best food and best service.
I give it my vote.
021 422 0765
Starters R40-85. Mains R75-180. Desserts R32-50.