Cornuti is an Italian restaurant situated in swanky Illovo. My first unmemorable visit a few years back had me sitting in a cramped corner and hampered my decision to return here in the last few years. I am so glad that I decided to come back because I had the loveliest evening out on a date with the boyfriend.
I love restaurants that have an open set up merging indoors and outdoors effortlessly. This is a beautiful spot to have dinner in the Summer. Did you notice my Mini in the background?
Décor is quite old school done predominantly in wood with a rainbow coloured blocked wall, mirrors, framed pictures and an open plan pizza preparation area. The only thing I didn’t like was how uncomfortable the chairs were especially if you are going to be there for a few hours.
It wouldn’t be Italian without a chalkboard menu! Starter options were limited to a choice of different pizza breads and dips.
Cornuti do small plates called cicheti much like tapas or meze. We decided on the lightly battered salt and pepper calamari and prawns cicheti served with a tartare sauce for R77 as a starter. The batter was light, a little oily and didn’t taste of pepper or stay on the calamari. While the dish was beautifully presented, the tartare sauce had way too much garlic and spring onion and it was a rather small portion.
If you decide on the small plates as a main meal option it will end up costing quite a lot as you will need to order three per person at an approximate cost of R210. The prices also seem substantially higher than those at places that serve tapas and meze. It was surprising to see that they use Le Creuset dishes, but I guess we were in Illovo darling.
I was a little obsessed with the beautiful lights. They were a perfect fit to the decor and added an intimate vibe to the restaurant.
I decided to be adventurous with my choice of main and opted for the chicken ravioli made with organic chicken breasts ground with mushroom, parmesan and truffle oil; served with a white wine and tarragon sauce for R86. The portion size was really small and the ravioli could have been stuffed with anything because while it added texture it didn’t taste like anything. I didn’t like the sauce either which was overwhelmed by the taste of butter. After trying chicken truffle dishes three times now I think it’s safe to say that the chicken taste is ruined if you are going to mince it and stuff it in pasta. Our waiter did recommend the dish with a Napoletana sauce but I can’t eat tomato based sauces and I also prefer to eat dishes as the chefs intend as much as possible.
Pizza is definitely what they are known for and what you should order here. Plenty of people stop by to pick up a takeaway. We had the Pollo e Zucchini pizza with spiced chicken breasts, baby marrow and zucchini for R96. The chicken was spiced nicely, the avocado a little black in places, the marrow were non-existent strips and the base was not as thin as I would have liked it. Despite it not being perfect it was one of the better tasting and reasonably priced pizzas I have had in a long time. I will be back to have the pizza again for sure!
On a second visit I had the prawn teriyaki pizza for R128 with prawns in honey teriyaki, with fresh coriander and chilli. I felt the pizza needed another salty ingredient to break up the sweetness and the cheesiness, the prawns were small and the chilli non-existent. While the bf liked this pizza I preferred the chicken one.
Despite the pizzas not being perfect it was one of the better tasting and reasonably priced pizzas I have had in a long time. I will be back to have the pizza again for sure!
You can easily eat a 3 course meal here as the portion sizes are generally quite small. For dessert we had the berry panacotta for R42. When it arrived I wanted to laugh because the presentation was so bad. The piece was small and haphazardly cut out from a bigger dish. Looks aside it was creamy, sweet and delicious, a perfect ending to dinner.
I really loved how chilled, romantic and pretty it was at night. Absolutely perfect for a date. The restaurant seems to be quite popular with locals and is frequented by some real golden oldies.
I couldn’t resist adding another picture of the lighting. My bf is so patient with me when we go out and puts up with all my picture taking. On this night I took around 80 photos to get the 11 that I used in this post. I’m also probably the worst person to go to a restaurant with because I will tell you to not touch your food before I have taken a picture.
The restaurant wasn’t busy so service was quick. Our waiter was just a little slow clearing up and sometimes wouldn’t pour the drink. I do think portion sizes are on the small size almost as if everything is counted out to the right number. If you are looking for a great place for a date, I do suggest you try it out. I know I will be returning for some pizza and suspect this might become my favourite date night place.
Cornuti & Cicheti,