Col’Cacchio’s new concept store at the V&A Waterfront includes more gluten-free and vegan options on the menu.Pictures: Orielle Berry
Col’Cacchio’s new concept store at the V&A Waterfront includes more gluten-free and vegan options on the menu.Pictures: Orielle Berry
There are many Italian treats at Col’Cacchio.
There are many Italian treats at Col’Cacchio.
The first time I went to Col’Cacchio at the Foreshore must have been 20 years ago. I was visiting my late mom and was blown away by what was a rarity in those days - a perfectly thin crust pizza with simple, but fresh and delicious toppings.

Happily, despite the fluctuations of time, Col’Cacchio’s Foreshore restaurant remains a popular venue, and in the intervening years the franchise, referred to in a press release as “Italian-inspired”, has grown in leaps and bounds with a number of branches dotted across the Peninsula, a couple can also be found in the Boland.

Regular visits have rarely disappointed and, while I primarily order pizzas (mostly takeaway for those “I-am-not- going-to-cook” Friday night suppers), on the occasions I do eat there, the service is good, snappy and friendly. There’s a great ambience at the Foreshore eatery as the spacious but cosy spot is located in an old building and possesses that often elusive gees.

CC, as I am calling it for short, recently opened what it terms a “concept store” at the V&A Waterfront. I am not too sure about the terminology, as I prefer to regard the franchise as a string of friendly family-oriented eateries but it has a prime corner location on the upper level of the Victoria Wharf.

Sit by the window or on the expansive wooden deck, both of which give splendid views of the ocean - even on the blustery day I was there I saw several ships waiting to dock in the harbour, gently swaying on the tempestuous seas.

Given its newness and the cold and wet weather, there were not many people around on the day I arrived.

The place has a fresh and contemporary look with wooden tables and clean-cut furnishings. Alongside the entrance is a small room where strips of pasta hang on a wooden rod and you can buy fresh dough and the ready-made pasta - hopefully this will expand to include more choices soon.

According to the menu, CC has been around since 1992. And while it has focused largely on pizzas, pastas and salads, the idea, with the Waterfront being first, is to introduce a new menu, along with the old and much-loved stalwarts. But the new one includes a host of new dishes - more gluten-free and vegan options plus low-calorie options in the pizza and pasta line and also a host of pastas, fish and meat dishes, and a few more desserts.

I sipped on a glass of Terra del Capo’s fresh and fruity Pinot Grigio, while deciding what to order.

Jostling for attention are some lovely new options - and to tempt diners to be swayed to the new ideas they are illustrated with photos.

The first thing that caught my eye was piadinis - a popular snack or meal in many Italian cities and villages - flat breads filled and toasted like a wrap. On offer here are healthy options: “allegro” with butternut, greens and roasted beetroot and feta with a green yoghurt dressing; those filled with quinoa, baby spinach, roasted butternut and more; and butter chicken filled with fior di latte mozzarella and crispy onions. The latter is definitely a contender for ingenuity and to be remembered for next time.

There are also new gourmet salads; think healthy options of leaves interspersed with anything from smoked salmon and capers and avo; or “orientale” with chicken and coriander, edamame beans, sesame seeds and julienned carrots; or, on the more traditional side, a Caesar salad; a Caprese with tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella and basil.

I was gunning for something new on the menu as I scanned the rest of the options. A ragu di manzo - slow-cooked pulled beef short rib in a red wine sauce served with “your choice” of spaghetti, linguine, gnocchi or wheat free pasta tempted me as did pasta with a sauce made of exotic mushrooms, cream and herbs as well as pasta parcels filled with spinach and ricotta or butternut.

Rutendo Mapfundematsva, my attentive and helpful waitron, also suggested the new fish dishes.

I was eventually swayed to try the grilled pesce limone served on a bed of spinach along with a choice of “side” - roasted sweet potato (other sides include linguine, roasted carrots, steamed broccoli and potato mash).

I had a mini feta and onion focaccia while I waited for my grilled fish: kingklip on the day I was there. The thin-crust focaccia did not disappoint, and I stopped myself from eating all of it so that I would have plenty of space left for the fish.

And I was glad I did as I polished it off slowly - enjoying the contrast of flavours of the succulent fish; the perfectly cooked spinach and the pleasing sharpness of the lemon sauce, offsetting its creaminess.

The sweet potatoes were cut into thin rounds and were a delicious and healthy accompaniment and with the wine it all went down perfectly. If only life was so synchronised.

I could not finish my dessert which I chose from among a small selection including tiramisu, Italian kisses, baby doughnuts and others. It was a melange of crushed meringues, strawberries and a berry coulis and there could be a little room for improvement here in offering more fruit and smaller lashings of cream and coulis and serving it in a glass bowl so that one sees the pretty layers rather than on a white dish.

But that said, the reinvented Col’Cacchio looks like it’s dressed for success - I am sure that come the warmer weather many visitors who pour into the V&A at weekends and during the holidays will find their way here; and love the variety of offerings from the tried and tested to the new dishes, not to mention the view.

The see-through pasta room also offers a kind of pasta theatre where you can see the chef in action.

There are also plenty more choices on the menu than those described.

There is a kiddies “bambini” menu and there are also breakfasts and a range of coffees as well as a wine list and cocktails and beers.

The “Grab & Go” also advertised, literally means that. It is served at the front of the eatery; it includes the piadine wraps and breakfasts, toasties and filled croissants and coffees.