In my most recent restaurant review I penned my impressions of a Saturday breakfast at the Piggly Wiggly Coffee Shop in Lions River and mentioned the experience heralded the beginning of what was to prove a most enjoyable and memorable weekend. The good times continued when I visited the La Lampara Italian Restaurant for lunch the following day.
Set in an old, restored brick dairy and located on the breathtakingly beautiful grounds of the Farm Boschfontein in Balgowan, La Lampara has a quirky ambience unmatched by any restaurant I have ever encountered in the Natal Midlands. Established in 1840, Boschfontein was one of the first farms ever in the area and the dairy formed an essential part of its operations for many years.
Complete with a wood-burning pizza oven it’s as rustic a setting for a restaurant as you are ever likely to find, and fits in perfectly with La Lampara’s Italian theme. You truly feel as if you have stepped back in time to a pre-war Italy or somewhere thereabouts – an unusual but captivating experience to say the least.
Another unusual aspect of La Lampara is that the menu changes every week with owners Pino and Caroline continually shopping around for fresh, local ingredients that they can utilise in the preparation of their traditional Italian dishes. After taking a while to browse through the extensive menu my companions and I, with the exception of my mom that is, decided that the wide selection of pizzas looked too tempting to pass up.
I do not consider myself to be a big pizza lover by any stretch of the imagination, but having being informed that the traditional wood fired pizzas prepared by La Lampara are far superior to those baked in an electric or gas oven at your local Pizzeria, I was eager to put this claim to the test.
I ordered the house speciality, the La Lampara (R67) with its main ingredients of salami, onion and green pepper expertly prepared on a light and crispy base. It was absolutely delicious, so much so in fact that I almost ordered another one just so that I could experience that magical combination of flavours for another 30 minutes or so.
My good friend Mary-Anne opted for the Alfredo (ham, mushrooms and cheese) at R68 and was more than satisfied with her choice although she did remark that her pizza crust was a bit too crispy. Her fiend Tanya, a newcomer to my restaurant review party and not generally a lover of wood fired pizza, nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed her Pollo (chicken strips and mushrooms).
At just R59 she felt it undoubtedly represented value for money, describing the base as “light and crispy” and the chicken and mushroom topping as “delicious”. Another friend, Cally, decided that the Hawaiian Pizza (a ham and pineapple combination for R59) would be more to her liking and she wasn’t disappointed, handing out another “delicious” verdict before she had even finished her meal.
My mom, seldom a pizza lover no matter the method of preparation, opted for the Linguine Anatra, a pasta dish consisting of strips of duck and leeks garnished in a white, creamy sauce. Although she felt her meal could have contained more meat, she did describe it as “tasty” and, at R89, felt it represented “good all round value for money.”
With everyone satisfied it didn’t look as though there would be any need for dessert, but with the chocolate cake sounding too good to resist, Cally and I decided to share a slice. At R35, it was by no means cheap, but oh my word was it divine – in fact, good enough to rank as one of the best tasting desserts I have ever had. If only there had been more of it!
I really liked La Lampara and so did all of my friends. The food was great, the service excellent (the advice on menu choices was particularly impressive), the ambience superb and, despite an annoying eight kilometre drive on a tricky gravel round, it was well worth a visit.
Telephone: +27 (0)33 234 4225
Address: Farm Boschfontein, Balgowan, Natal Midlands, KwaZulu Natal