I’m not sure I believe in love at first sight – unless, of course, it applies to restaurants. When it comes to eating out, I definitely think that love at first sight is a thing. And I should know, I just experienced it with Zsa Zsa.
Zsa Zsa is the new kid on the block, though I can hardly call it a kid. Perhaps the new lady that graces the neighbourhood? But now I have the lyrics of Jenny From The Block racing through my mind, so I’ll park this thought and move on.
Regardless, Zsa Zsa opened up a mere three months ago, and they’ve already made their mark.
I was supposed to visit them for their launch but, alas, I was away at the time, and have had to hear from everyone else how glorious the food is.
Luckily, I could rectify that situation and try them out for myself earlier today (at the time of writing, not publication).
The Gatsbian World Of Zsa Zsa
Zsa Zsa is one of those places that lures you in and entices you with its charm.
By some stroke of misfortune, we took the back entrance on Hout Street, but I was already in awe of the space.
Eric, the general manager, led us through the building to the red carpet front entrance on Buitengracht Street so we could have the “real” Zsa Zsa entrance experience.
But having already seen the interior, I knew I loved it.
Plush teal sofas, mirrors, art decor, and lots of gold, this is a Gatsbian-feel venue, much like Harringtons Cocktail Lounge, from which Zsa Zsa drew some inspiration.
You may know from my Harringtons articles that I wrote my Honours thesis on The Great Gatsby and am in love with the world F. Scott Fitzgerald so masterfully creates. So, naturally, I’m drawn to places that replicate his vision.
Zsa Zsa has that true Gatsbian feel that marries class and glamour with a little bit of secrecy and a whole lot of indulgence.
The Zsa Zsa Menu
Fitting, then, that Zsa Zsa is an Italian restaurant – the epitome of indulgence.
Sabine and I took a seat in a booth right by the main entrance, were greeted by our waiter, Joaquin (like Phoenix, but cooler), and browsed the cocktail, wine, and food menus.
The menus are all decorated with beautiful artworks.
They remind me of Picasso paintings, but I know absolutely nothing about art and the exposure I do have is largely limited to the exceptional paintings Sabine has done, one of which is an extraordinary Picasso replica.
It may be the Harringtons Cocktail Lounge association or the “floating rounds of cocktails” depicted so often in The Great Gatsby, but it seemed a sin not to indulge in a cocktail to start the Zsa Zsa experience.
So I opted for a classic, the Kir Royale (R95), with a gentle, sweet flavour and strawberries.
Sabine went for a glass of the Lourensford The Dome Chardonnay (R75) instead, which is really quite exceptional – soft and buttery and perfectly easy-drinking.
Zsa Zsa has a nice selection of starters, including their standard entrees and salads in starter or main portions.
Notable options include the Prosciutto Di Parma (R150), Beef Carpaccio (R100), Calamari (R95), Burrata (R155), and the Tagliata With Rocket (R135).
I initially opted for the burrata – a favourite I’ve enjoyed in London dozens of times but never locally, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t available when we went. It is a bestseller, though, so I still want to go back and try this.
We decided to go with some of Eric’s recommendations instead.
Sabine had the Tagliata With Rocket, which smelled like absolute heaven when it arrived at the table. I was a little disappointed to find out that it was her meal that smelled so good and not mine.
But I had ordered the Grilled Calamari, and luckily both of the dishes were equally delicious and full of flavour.
The tagliata is definitely more intense in flavour than the calamari, though these were probably the most flavourful calamari I’ve had in a long time.
I particularly enjoyed the delicate creamy sauce of my calamari, matched perfectly by the oodles of lemon juice I squeezed on top.
Heading To The Main Act
I was torn with the mains. Pizza? Pasta? Seafood? Meat?
Just last week, I had a long discussion about pasta on my Instagram platform and have been craving pasta ever since.
Plus, Zsa Zsa has the most divine-sounding seafood pasta with prawns, calamari, mussels, chilli, garlic, cherry tomatoes, rocket, and pine nuts (R245).
Seafood pasta is my Kryptonite (and ironically, the only kind of pasta I never make at home).
But everything else looked so good as well!
Sabine, as a low carber, had an easier choice as pizza and pasta were immediate no-gos.
[If you’re a low carber looking for good treats, check out our article on the best low carb treats in Cape Town]
She was torn between the Kingklip (R210) and the Sole Meuniere (R245). Eric recommended the sole, so she ended up going for that.
Pan-fried and served with butter and parsley, the sole was perfectly done.
Delicate yet flavourful.
I decided on the Veal Limone (R180).
This is one of my favourite Italian dishes, and it’s so hard to find in Cape Town.
There used to be an Italian restaurant at the V&A Waterfront called the Hildebrand, and I always had the Veal Limone there. They closed down a few years ago, and I haven’t been able to find a good one since.
Luckily, Zsa Zsa changed that. The Veal Limone was divine.
It came out quite saucy, which I wasn’t expecting, but the sauce really was the best part – creamy, buttery, and super, super lemony!
The portion doesn’t look like much, but it really is rather large and superbly filling.
I was pretty full about halfway through the meal, but it was just too delicious not to finish.
An Assortment Of Side Dishes
You can order separate sides, but the main meals also come with a side of your choice.
Complimentary sides include fries, fine beans, rucola salad, and baby potatoes.
Sabine had the Fine Green Geans in Butter, of which I ate about half because they were so delicious!
I opted for the Rucola and Parmesan Salad, a simple but healthy choice.
We also ordered a Gratin Dauphinois (R45) to share, which Sabine fell in love with. A good potato bake is quite magical indeed.
This one is served with a beetroot puree, which I found quite interesting, but I really enjoyed the two somewhat opposing flavours.
Sweet Little Endings
For dessert, I opted for the tiramisu – which may surprise you as Zsa Zsa also has panna cotta on the menu, and everyone knows that I love a good panna cotta.
But who can resist a tiramisu?
It was rustic and delightful, a bit too creamy for me, but still very good.
I’ll have to try the panna cotta the next time.
I just realised I already have my whole menu set for the next time I visit – Burrata, Seafood Pasta, and Panna Cotta.
And, yes, there definitely will be a next time. Zsa Zsa was too good to be a one-off experience.
Eating On A Budget
But what if you’re on a budget?
I hear you. I’m an actor, largely out of work since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020, so I’m all about that budget life.
Good to know, then, that Zsa Zsa does offer regular specials:
- Daily “dish of the day” lunch special for R100
- Daily 2-for-1 drinks special between 16:30 and 18:30
They also have a (currently) on-going competition where you can win a delicious dinner if you upload a messy photo of yourself eating pasta. Check out their Instagram for deets and updates on this.
Visit Zsa Zsa
You’ll find all the information on Zsa Zsa below.
Call: +27 21 023 2402
Article Date: March 2021
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