A while ago my husband and I headed to Menlyn for a day date at Forti Grill & Bar at Time Square. While kids are welcome at the restaurant, I felt like a rare lunch without someone sitting on my lap, grabbing ice cubes from my glass, and trying to put food in my mouth. Basically, I wanted to drink my G&T like an adult, and have all my lunch to myself.
Forti is named after its owner and chef, Fortunato Mazzone, who is an Italian legend in restaurant circles. He used to own Ritrovo in Waterkloof, which was considered one of the area’s best Italian restaurants.
Anyway, Fortunato, or Forti, is not only good at creating sensational restaurants, but he’s charismatic and hospitable, and is one of those guys who doesn’t forget a name, and who draws people to his spaces as much as his food does. In fact, we sat next to a couple who followed Forti from Ritrovo to his new spot, and who come from Joburg each month to eat there.
The restaurant hits the trifecta of ingredients – fantastic food, serving and setting. The restaurant is large and light, and there are touches of modern and classic decor. The kitchen is state-of-the-art, there’s quiet concentration and happiness in the kitchen (forget an shouting of orders and reality-show drama), and there’s no messing around with ingredients or quality – all the meat is organic and grass-fed, fish is sourced from ethical producers, the pasta is made on a pasta line, and some of the ingredients are authentic Italian (and not just “Italian style”).
It’s the place where romantic dates happen, where birthdays are celebrated, business deals wagered, and families connect, and it’s not often that one place is “the spot” for all types of people.
As for the menu, you’ll be hard-pressed for choice. As a vegetarian and occasional fish eater, there was a huge amount on offer for me, and not just the standard “veg platter” with creamed spinach and pumpkin. There are also plenty of interesting-sounding and looking vegan dishes.
Some of the dishes on the menu have been in the family for decades. There’s the “Prawns of My Father”, which consist of prawns baked in the oven with champagne, garlic and butter, served with Parmesan rice. Another one is “Lumaconi”, which is pasta shells stuffed with veal, spinach, ricotta and mushrooms and then baked under a Parmesan crust.
The menu is broken down into the beef cuts of the day; hors d’oeuvres; a selection of meat, fish, poultry and duck, plus two full pages of homemade pasta, followed by a dessert section . You’ll be full, but you’ll need to make space for the ice cream, Belgian chocolate brownie, Arborio rice pudding with rooibos syrup, or pistachio brûlée, to name a few.
There are new specials daily for starters and mains – my plus one had the oxtail special, and I had grilled fish, and both were superb.
Forti Grill & Bar has an extensive winelist, across various budgets, and sourced from eight countries.
And yes, I’ve put my own money where my mouth is and we’ve been back!
Forti’s Grill & Bar is situated in the Time Square Sun International Casino on the corner of Aramist and Corobay Street in Menlyn Maine, Pretoria. Open for lunch and dinner from Sunday to Thursday from 11h45 until 22h00 and Friday and Saturday from 11h45 until 24h00. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram.