A fond farewell to Ritrovo Ristorante
Noble Savage (he said):
As you may or may not know, the Ides of March (15 March) was traditionally a day of religious observance, particularly relating to Jupiter (every Ides was in honour of him, lucky bastard). It is also notorious for the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. And this year, March also signals the final moments of a legendary Italian eatery in Pretoria: Ritrovo.
The first time we went to Ritrovo was on a whim. We didn’t really plan it, was ‘lus’ for pizza and (as far as I can remember) saw their name in the Eat Out Guide. So we went for it! And our first impression can only be decribed as underwhelmed.
The main issue was that the furniture and fitting were a bit outdated and tatty. We sat down at our table, planning to have a drink and find somewhere else for said pizza. But then we started interacting with the waiter, and could tell this place was not your ordinary pizzeria; this place was authentic. So we decided to stay. And had probably the best Italian experience ever!
Since then, we’ve been back many times. Birthdays, anniversaries, lazy Saturday lunches, fancy dinners – Ritrovo managed to be ideal for any occasion. So we were crushed to find out that Ritrovo would be closing up shop in March. So, not that we needed an excuse, we decided to do one last lunch with an old favourite.
And we were, again, not disappointed. I normally judge a restaurant by their seafood pizza – if I see a crab stick on there, I know they don’t really value high standards. At Ritrovo, they have proper seafood on the pizza, perfectly cooked, and deliciously delicious. I was scared that they might, as the end approaches, let the standards slip a bit, but not on the day we went there. I might have been wearing nostalgia-tinted glasses, but they could not put a foot wrong on the day.
All the big players in the restaurant are moving on to other ventures (luckily the staff will be moving too), among others the new Forti Grill and Bar at the still-in-progress Time Square casino across Menlyn Maine. That being said, the loss of Ritrovo will definitely leave a gap in the restaurant scene.
BoozyFoodie (she said):
Okay, this post is VERY overdue… seeing that Ritrovo officially closed its doors on the 18th of March already. But this is really quite emotional for me. Especially because there were actually quite a few experiences at Ritrovo that I was still looking forward to!
I still wanted to attend one of the Opera Evenings. We arrived at Ritovo on Noble Savage’s Birthday a year or two ago, and saw DAME MIMI COERTSE sipping on a glass of wine, seated right on the little ‘patio’ in front of the restaurant. I was DYING to ask her for a selfie, but NS insisted that I should not harass her, and that she probably wouldn’t appreciate an overeager, stuttering starstruck fangirl intruding on her ‘sipping on a glass of chilled white wine on Ritrovo’s stoep’ moment. Sigh. I personally think he was just threatened by the fact that he was not the belle of the ball in my eyes, it was HIS birthday after all. Think no one likes Mimi Coertse stealing their thunder 😉
Alas, a missed opportunity – like the fabulous wine dinners that was hosted there (I know they love Saronsberg as much as I do!). But I’m sure that Chef Forti will have a lot more fantastic events happening at the brand new Forti Grill and Bar!
When we sat down for our last meal at Ritrovo my tummy was actually turning a bit…. Yes, I KNOW that bigger and better things are in store, but I am the sentimental type.
So, what to order…. It took me a while to decide, but luckily we had fantastic company and a few bottles of wine to take the edge off a bit. Thanks Carli and Burmsie 🙂
As a started I chose the Arancini all Ragu – decadent rice balls – stuffed with cheese and pulled Beef Ragu’.
And behold this gorgeous plate of pasta! I decided to go with the very traditional Italian pasta – not too extravagant or complex, just real comfort food!
And, by the way – I should’ve asked if those plates were for sale! Love the old school branding 🙂 So part of the 20-plus year old Ritrovo tradition!
Thanks for the memories Chef Forti – wishing you only the best with your brand new venture! We will DEFINITELY pop in as soon as the doors open!