LOOK, I am generally a nice guy. I like the Financial Mail’s readers. The fact that you guys can still afford to go to restaurants in this economic climate makes me realise just how committed you are to the growth of this economy. So I want only the best for you.
I try to find great restaurants and hope readers will frequent them. Unlike most of our readers I am also a bit of a socialist — on a good day — so I am a great believer in the working class. So I tip. I tip a lot, sometimes unreasonably so. People who don’t are, to me, just mean.
I have often told the story of the multibillionaire who took me and a colleague to lunch. He left a R10 note and a few coins on the table after we had polished off fine wine and great steaks, and been given absolutely the most exquisite service (it was at the Grillhouse in Rosebank, where service is always world class). My friend and I went back to give a proper tip.
There has been a huge furore about Ntokozo Qwabe, one of the leaders of the Rhodes Must Fall movement now at Oxford University, who bragged on Facebook about the way he and a friend treated a waiter at Obz Café in Cape Town. When the time to pay came, his friend wrote on the bill: “We will give tip when you return the land.”
The waiter was a white woman.
Now, I am sure the privileged Qwabe is desperate for the return of his land, but going for working-class waiters for that (while niftily avoiding paying a tip) is just bad manners, and poor political strategy and tactics. It is typical upper-class meanness towards people who are weaker than you. He didn’t tip. Any chance of getting his land back because of it? Any political triumphs?
I digress. Despite my love for Financial Mail readers I have to confess that I have been somewhat mean. A friend told me to get to Gemelli in Bryanston. I asked around. “Best Italian food in the business,” said another friend.
So off my lovely wife and I went with two friends. On a weekday it was packed, with a lovely, convivial mood about the place. The waiting staff? Helpful, eager, knowledgeable. You want to tip these guys.
Though Gemelli is in an unprepossessing mall, its décor is modern and attractive. It is set in a large space, but doesn’t feel so because it fills up, and is warm and welcoming.
Before we ordered, founder and owner Alessandro Mosupi Khojane came over to chat about the menu and give advice. Now that’s a restaurateur right there. First, he knows his stuff: raised in Italy as the son of a diplomat, he seems to ooze Italian food and sensibility.
You won’t starve at Gemelli. You can order a variety of delicious starters, from prawns to venison carpaccio, then go on to classic pasta dishes and risotto, and finish off your journey with the poletto or a steak or fish.
I wanted to try a basic spaghetti aglio olio, among other things, and Khojane recommended his prawns to go with it. So I said yes. We ordered a whole bunch of other dishes, and immediately fell to.
Now, this place aims to serve “inspired Italian dishes that are modern yet nostalgically familiar”. It didn’t disappoint. Every dish was delicious (with hints of the familiar and its own special touches), and we all felt Johannesburg had been given a great addition to its rather lean restaurant profile. My aglio olio was probably the best I’ve had in 10 years. I was extremely happy.
So, what was I saying? I am sorry. I went to Gemelli months ago but failed to write about it because I did not want to share. That’s almost as bad as not tipping. So here you are then. Go to Gemelli and have a great time.
Shop 13 Posthouse Link Centre, Corner Main Road and Posthouse Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg
Tel: (010) 591-4333
***** Thuli Madonsela