Zio, the Italian family restaurant in Hyde Park, is serving up hearty comfort food guaranteed to bring warm cheer to a wintry Johannesburg. Great steaming platters of meaty delights, deliberately meant to be shared by two, are on offer for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday.
To stave off the plummeting temperatures, nature’s finest fare, whether organic beef or lamb are expertly prepared to tantalise taste buds. Executive Chef Jonathan Nel, 36, who oversees the kitchens at both Alessandro Khojane’s restaurants, Gemelli and Zio, dreamed up the concept of the shared primal cut platter.
“The only true way to combat the cold is through comfort food. To paraphrase an Irish saying, a good laugh and a great warming meal can literally cure anything”, said Nel. “Add to that a glass of Shiraz and you have a killer meal that will withstand the cruellest winter night.”
It’s why he designed a meal around larger cuts of meat, enough for two to share and accompanied by winter fuelling root vegetables like glazed baby carrots and garlic mash, all covered in a wild rosemary jus. For afters, hot South African styled puddings are on offer to round off the meal.
Whether braised milk-fed lamb neck, organic lamb shank or grass fed rib on-the-bone is being served (depending on the night they choose), diners are in for a culinary treat. Chef Jonathan has introduced a Sunday brunch with a Harvest Table that serves farm-style food with flair.
He said: “Harvest tables, for me, demand the freshest fare. Stone ground, organic muffins sit next to artisanal breads. The finest seasonal food that is on offer is prepared simply, but deliciously, to cater for the discerning palate.”
Chef Jonathan takes food seriously. Until he came to Johannesburg three years ago and began working at Gemelli, he lived on a working sheep farm set against the Limietberg 20kms outside Wellington in the Western Cape.
Since then, he has shared his rustic food approach with the chefs team, importing his Cape farm-style methods to Zio. He said: “When I lived on the farm, that day’s fresh produce, grown on the farm, made it to table. It’s what I want for Zio.”