There’s something decidedly hodge podge about Posticino – the virtually emerald green sign indicating the restaurant, the rather glamorous and trendy outdoor terrace that looks like something out of Italy, the almost overcumbersome arches, and then the quaint, this-is-a-family-style rather dimly lit tavern-style restaurant that all somehow manages to co-exist in a way that has the place constantly buzzing.
Okay, perhaps ‘hodge podge’ is a little derogatory a term for this successful eatery. Eclectic would probably be more apt, since it’s something of an icon in Sea Point and I need to treat it with more respect (I do so naturally when I later sample the pizzas) …
I’m a stranger to Sea Point. I’m here so rarely that I manage to feel like a visitor in my own city, which makes for some interesting discoveries, and Posticino (although already discovered by all and sundry) is just such a find.
Adjacent to the restaurant is a hair salon called something exotic about hair (I forget what), but whose employees seem to frequent Posticino more than their own place of work. After soaking up the feel of the place for a minute we stand in some confusion on the terrace, our appointed lunch companions fashionably late (must make a note to acquire at all costs the cest la vie attitude of latecoming that true Capetonians carry off with such aplomb). This is their local haunt.
Martin bussles over, not at all fazed by our distracted demeanour. ‘Table for two?’ he asks suavely, whilst managing to look as if he is cleaning tables, distributing menus and making way for us all at the same time, despite the fact that he’s standing quite still and sussing us out. It is years of practice, obviously, as we soon learn that he’s been waiting on tables here for at least a decade.
Before we know it he returns with our drinks, a constant stream of chatter accompanying his passage from the bar indoors, directed at each of the tables he passes, en route to where we’ve settled nicely on the terrace. At this stage we contemplate that we may have made a mistake sitting out of doors as the sun promptly does a duck behind an ominous looking cloud. But we are determined to entertain the hint of spring that the whole of winter, until now, has promised.
The menus, rather unceremoniously dumped in the centre of the table, reveal that the restaurant is owned by Enrico and Gioacchino. Not having asked Martin’s name as yet, I make the mistake of asking him which of the two he is. Martin immediately rests one wrist on his waist and the other clutches his chest ceremoniously – ‘neither, darling’, he gushes. ‘I’m Martin’.
Since it doesn’t look as though we will meet either of the partners in the restaurant, we are more than happy to be entertained by Martin, who is such an institution that his Winny the Pooh t-shirt – worn for years before he finally painted it and stretched it over canvas for Enrico, who demanded that he do so since he wore the t-shirt so often – hangs above the bar in the restaurant’s interior.
We cast our eye over the menu whilst we still have time. There are the usual suspects in the pizza line-up – regina, margherita, quattro staggioni, siciliana – but then there are some rather delectable ensembles – the funghineri with mushrooms and garlic, or the posticino that comes with mushrooms, olives, asparagus, green pepper and artichokes, or the carabinieri with chilli, garlic, green peppers, mushrooms and olives. I can already see that making a choice is going to be difficult. To add to our dilemma, there are also additional pizza toppings that include caviar, salmon, anchovies, various local cold meats (I believe the salami is the genuine article), bocconcini, avocado, sundried tomatoes, pineapple and the like.
After our party eventually arrives we find that the pasta is none too shabby either, as Andrew’s ravioli is heavenly. And the pizzas, when they finally make their way to the table – by this time we’re deep in conversation – are arguably the tastiest pizzas I’ve had, ever, thanks to the thin and crispy base (Posticino claims the best traditional thin-base pizzas outside of Napoli) that puts paid to franchise renditions, for roughly the same price. Our Posticino pizza is right on the mark – the table shares a couple of the restaurant’s namesakes and a caprese salad – and I could easily eat this without feeling that my stomach has been dealt a blow by a fistful of cement.
I discover that there is also a Posticino Express on Greenmarket Square, for those eager to share the taste on the hop. You can pick up an equally homemade and excellent pizza or panini there. And the pizza toppings at Posticino are something of a mix and match, I later learn. You can choose the pizza toppings for your pasta and vice versa. Nothing is sacrasant here, and the theme is ‘do as you’d do at home’ – no more, no less.
I enter the tavern a little later on the pretext of tracking down the ladies (there is a unisex toilet, and one only, so it must get a little hectic when it gets busy). Indoors, the restaurant is hiding its own little Italian ‘mamma’ – pint-size, her hair scraped back into a bun, she sweeps past me whilst shouting orders in her leopard print top over a little black pencil skirt. I grin.
The walls are graced with mock-frescos, whilst black and white family photos don the other spaces. The bar area is an eclectic mix of anything from flags to signed menus, whilst the clock on the wall is at least an hour early. Whoops, not so, time to pick a little someone up from school. We wave our goodbyes, shouting the traditional ‘ciao’ across the restaurant, as Martin blows us kisses, and swing down the terrace to the busy Main Road of Sea Point – taxi hooters blasting and a scrupulous car attendant who insists on charging us for the extra 15 minutes parking we appear to have nabbed.
Posticino, Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
Telephone: +27 (0)21 449-4014