REVIEW: Il Contadino restaurant

Il Contadino

Our features writer Fundiswa Nkwanyana had lunch at Il Contadino in Parktown, Johannesburg. She shares with us her experience at this trendy eatery.


Every time I passed by this restaurant, my eyes would be drawn to the alluring black and white signage that lights up at night. So, I eventually made a booking because I was fascinated to see what goes on inside. This restaurant has a farm-style appeal that’s refreshing to see in an urban setting. I loved the rustic decor that consisted of refurbished furniture and upcycled decorative accessories ranging from spades on the walls, light fixtures hanging from a wooden plank and lush green plants in tin containers. Even though the restaurant is fairly big, the seating arrangements with the open plan kitchen made it cosy and warm.

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As I looked through the menu, my mouth started to water because all the meals are made from organic ingredients sourced from the Brightside Farm in Magaliesburg. The thought of having a meal sourced from a sustainable and organic farm excited me, especially because nowadays most of the food we eat is genetically modified.  For starters, I ordered grass fed beef carpaccio served with freshly sliced radish, crumbled parmesan, roast pine nuts and green chimichurri dressing. Even though I’m not a fan of raw meat; the combination of flavours made this meal very delicious. It was a fresh and light starter that left enough room for the main and dessert. For mains, I had rotolo which is rolled lasagne sheets baked in a wood fire. I loved that there was minimal flavouring, and the tomatoes and mince had a rich taste. I could taste the freshness of the tomatoes which is often buried by spices in many dishes. After sitting for 45 minutes on the refurbished chairs, I moved to the couch seating area as I found the chair uncomfortable because there was no cushioning on the backrest. My dessert was tiramisu with a twist. It had berry compote, mascarpone and coffee, and I loved that the ingredients were perfectly balanced. All my meals were delicious and plated in a simple yet artistic way.

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I love eating out alone, and have finally found a restaurant where I can enjoy a meal with a book and glass of wine without feeling awkward because most of the patrons were doing the same. The patrons looked like mature foodies who wanted a peaceful place to enjoy authentic Italian food. I also loved that the food is fairly priced with all the mains less than R200. The wine selection is also impressive. If you are looking for unpretentious Italian food in a charming rustic and farm-style setting with locally sourced wine, I highly recommend you visit this restaurant.