Gemelli has been the top rated restaurant in Johannesburg for the past year which anyone who has been lucky enough to get in has raved about. Firstly you need to know that you will need to reserve a table at least six weeks in advance for dinner.
Gemelli and I got off to a disastrous first impression. We had a horrible table in the cold closed off outside section where it was extremely noisy. The combination of terrible acoustics as well as obnoxiously loud customers really ruined our dining experience. I was snidely told that it was the best table. It would have been preferable to be informed of the seating arrangements at the booking stage. While it might be nice in Summer, take my word for it and don’t sit here in the colder months.
On our first visit we had the tempura prawn starter, lamb ragu pasta, Alessandro pasta & panna cotta for dessert. The starter was both overcooked and flavourless, the mains were okay & dessert wasn’t set properly. Needless to say I wasnt impressed with the food, the hype or the very noisy ambience. We left with a hefty bill and an unsatisfied, empty feeling from out food. My first experience was not worth the calories, price or wait. Most disappointing of all was the rude and snooty response of the owner to my 3.5/5 review on Zomato.
Our second visit was really enjoyable. I went with a group of friends, we sat inside and it wasn’t as noisy. Gemelli at night is more of a social than date outing. The best way to enjoy it, is not to buy into the hype like I did. The food is good but not life changing amazing as the reviews led me to expect.
The decor has a modern and industrial look. You can find plenty of pastas and risottos on the menu at this Italian restaurant.
We shared the gamberetti starter with tempura prawn tails, coconut cream, roasted garlic, chilli, lime and sesame for R99. The batter was thick, seperating from the prawn and tasted of oil. The flavourless sauce didn’t complement the expensive prawns which were overcooked and chewy.
The lamb ragu pasta is made with a 6hr braised lamb, olives, goats chevin, aubergine, tomato, beurre blanc and a butternut mousse for R140. The meat was very tender, but I couldn’t taste the sweetness of the butternut coming through. The overall taste was slightly sour from the tomatoes and bitterness from the olives.
Penne Alessandro with penne rigate, smoked chicken, prawn tails, roasted garlic, prosecco and whole grain mustard cream for R125 is the owners name sake pasta. A very rich dish with overcooked prawns yet again. I found the smokiness of the chicken, sourness of the Prosecco and mustard flavour were all unbalanced in the dish. It was great to see the excellent quality of the chicken and prawns used in this dish.
It looked slightly different the second time when my friend ordered it. An interesting tidbit: this dish was inspired by a meal made from 2 minute noodles, mustard and cream that Alessandro made when he was a kid.
Linguine di Mare for R170 with prawn tails, Saldanha Bay mussels, clams, calamari, tomato base, herb cream and rosa tomato. All seafood pastas taste the same to me, just a little too fishy.
Risotto ai Funghi with porcini, local mushrooms, porcini stock, parmesan, truffle oil, porcini powder for R140 is packed with delicious flavour.
Calamari e Chimichurri with penne rigate, calamari, pickled pepper, sofrito, rosa tomato, chimichurri pesto and basil oil for R140. I wasn’t expecting a pesto based sauce from the explanation given by the waiter. It could have done with a little more sauce and calamari.
Risotto di Zucca with leek, pumpkin mousse, candied walnut, pumkin seeds, ricotta and parmesan for R135 was delicious. The risottos here really are a winner.
Pina Colada panna cotta with coconut cream, vanilla bean, macerated pineapple, lime jelly and coconut cookie for R59 had way too much going on. The panna cotta was more like a mousse because it wasn’t set. The different textures and flavours didn’t work well together.
Almond Nougat baked cheesecake with 1701 almond nougat, cranberry, vanilla meringue, marzipan gelato for R72. This is an absolutely delicious and decadent dessert. A must order item at Gemelli.
Lemon and vanilla bean panna cotta with vanilla meringue crumble, red berry jelly and tarty limoncello cocktail for R85. It was my fault for not liking this as I am not a fan of the overpowering limoncello flavour.
Some of the items on the menu changes seasonally. I would recommend skipping starters, trying the risotto for mains and the baked cheesecake for dessert. Service is good except for the lack of knowledge of the menu. Do go with a group of friends and expect to hand over plenty of hard earned cash. Once I had adjusted my expectations I really do love Gemelli and think it worth a visit.
Ring: (010) 591-4333
Hop: Posthouse Link Centre, Cnr Main & Posthouse Street, Bryanston
Gemelli & Risotto,