I was invited to try the combined winter and birthday offering at Stuzzico at Villa 47 Emporium in Bree Street.
I usually avoid the city centre over weekends, but this restaurant is near the quieter side of this usually busy strip.
It's relatively easy to find, however, if you don’t know that Stuzzico is one of two restaurants inside Villa 47, there’s a chance you may miss the venue, unless you’re using your trusted GPS.
It was a cold night, but the minute my partner and I stepped through the doors the restaurant felt warm and yes, welcoming.
The dimmed lights created a warm, relaxed atmosphere which I really liked.
In addition to a bar area, the restaurant also has a section with couches for a larger crowd, a DJ box and a fireplace, perfect for dining on cold winter nights.
The Italian word Stuzzico means to tantalise, and having seen the menu prior to my visit, I was certainly looking forward to having my taste buds tantalised.
The restaurant offers a variety of Italian style tapas and small plates ideal for sharing, alongside traditional Italian dishes.
The menu comes with an option of two courses at R160 a person or three courses at R210 a person excluding beverages.
A two-course menu including a bottle of Italian sparkling wine or a 750ml bottle of Italian craft beer or a bottle of Italian red or white wine will set you back R410 while a three-course with beverages comes to R510.
I had my sights on the Arancini for starters - a vegetarian dish deep fried bread crumbed risotto balls. For mains, the Amazeballs - slow- cooked pork meatballs, arrabiata and truffled Parmesan cream.
It wasn’t a busy night so chef Vittorio Bianchi had a few minutes to say hello and was nice enough to talk us through each dish on the menu.
I am a huge fan of sharing and that’s exactly what Stuzzico offers - meals are served in decent size portions and side plates give you the option to share meals.
For drinks we had the Nebra, an Italian craft beer with a caramel and toffee taste.
Unlike most beers, this double-malt is sealed with a cork and served in a wine glass.
I think I have found my new favourite beer.
It was time for the food to arrive and I stuck with my original choice, the Arancini, while my partner had salt and pepper calamari - crispy with yoghurt and chilli mayonnaise.
I found the calamari dish to be a little too salty and dipping it in the mayonnaise didn’t seem to make much difference.
I am by no means a vegetarian, but I enjoyed the risotto balls with the pancetta, peas, mozzarella with arrabiata sauce on the side a whole lot more and the smell of the mozzarella was divine.
For the mains I also went with my original choice, the Amazeballs.
I was really looking forward to this dish; sadly the meal didn’t live up to its name and I was rather disappointed.
The meatballs tasted like something I tasted many times before - it was nothing special.
While I didn’t enjoy the meatballs and tomato sauce, I did enjoy dipping my bread into the Parmesan cream. My partner had the chargrilled Chalmar sirloin (200g) with his steak medium to well done.
This dish was a definite winner and the steak was perfectly done.
We both agreed we would definitely be back for the steak and the craft beer.
Overall, I was impressed with the look and feel of the place including the beautiful wall wine display.
While there were some misses, the crumbed risotto balls, beer and the steak definitely made up for them.