Pane e Vino

Located at Bosman’s Crossing on the original arterial road into Stellenbosch, as you enter this welcoming wine bar with its gigantic fireplace, the heady aroma of red wine embraces one, immediately raising the appetite and heightening your expectations. Elena Dalla Cia, a Florentine, does not disappoint. Her emphasis is on authentic, “old kitchen” Tuscan ways. Open for lunch only, the chalkboard menu changes daily according to what fresh supplies were available to her exactingly high standards (this establishment does not rely on wholesaler deliveries). However, there are a number of dishes that are almost always on the menu. Popular among wine-tasters is the affettati misti (R68), a platter assortment of finely sliced, imported, quality cold meats with prosciutto, Parma ham, fat Napoli salami, mortadella with pistachio nuts embedded, and big, juicy imported green olives. The insalata caprese is kept in the bowl the traditional way. Local cow’s milk mozzarella is used as Elena considers it fresher than the plasticised imports. The melanzane alla parmigiani (R68) was the best I’ve had in South Africa. The pasta parcels of tortelli al ragu (R64), is a superior, rich “bolognaise”, the beef being stewed and then finely chopped by knife.  Other favourites are the beef and pork lasagne, the Tuscan thick barley soup, and seared roast beef with rosemary and garlic. Desserts are not to be missed. These include a budino di riso (a rice tartet), an Italian apple tartlet, an irresistible melt-in-the-mouth tiramisu (no finger biscuits here!), and to my mind the pièce de résistance, sbrisolona (R19) – almond and polenta biscuits over which one is invited to pour some of Dalla Cia’s premium grappa. Pane e Vino has that dependable hands-on family-run  feel.

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