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Blending old-world Italian style with new-world taste updates at Balducci

Balducci at the V&A Waterfront brings you the best of Italian classics like pizza and pasta, with a twist as innovative new items are constantly added to the menu, like the cheese-burger pizza and lemon salmon-roll sushi - plus, there's a winter lunchtime special if your pockets aren't 'tourist deep'.

Not part of the constant rotation of food-trend-based eateries, Balducci’s has been a firm tourist favourite at the V&A Waterfront for almost 23 years.

That doesn’t mean it’s stuffy and pretentious, though.

A recent renovation by global award-winning architect Stefan Antoni - the man behind the original, PG Bison Award for design excellence-winning solid Cherrywood design when Balducci first opened in September 1996 - means you’re blessed for days with views of the iconic Cape Wheel, Table Mountain itself and the harbour basin out of the clear glass walls.

Don't worry about that winter chill as the inside hums of homely elegance, with luxurious leather seating and a bar packed to the brim with intriguing fresh ingredients and all the staples of those cocktail classics.

Embracing the Italian art of eating at Balducci

A good restaurant, someone once said, must make a singular connection between food, family, and friends. Without all three, it is without soul.

29 Dec 2016

Tables were packed, despite the unconventional mealtime of 3.30pm, in mid-Winter – a sure sign that the restaurant’s reputation precedes itself.

It’s authentic, home-style Italian first and foremost, with touches of other flavours such as Asian noodles and sushi and the burgers and signature premium ‘wow’ shakes that Slick Group sister restaurant Gibson’s serves to perfection, or the mouth-watering steaks from Balthazar.

Seated at a corner table that made us first for that harbour view and far from the international foot traffic, our server Emour presented us with the Balducci’s ‘menu’ – a hard-spined, A5-size mini magazine of its own, with drool-worthy pictures to help (or hinder) your decision-making process.

Thinking (and eating) Italian

Having given us a few minutes to peruse all the options he returned with a tray of fresh white and brown bread and soft pats of butter sealed with Slick Restaurant Group paper before taking our order.

My husband opted for the ‘salt and pepper squid’ starter, a plate full of kara-age (stir-fry style) calamari tubes and crispy tentacles, along with slice of lemon, side of lemon hoisin sauce and sprig of rosemary.

I happily sipped on my deliciously creamy and tangy Africa-inspired Amarula Colada cocktail, the perfect ‘adult milkshake’ option for this #milkshakequeen as he made headway on his starter served with a chilled glass of the house red before it was time for mains.

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By Leigh Andrews 1 Apr 2019

There’s lots to choose from if your wine tastes are more specific, rest assured as Balducci has experienced sommeliers on hand showcasing over 100 of the Cape’s finest wines, with 60 available by the glass.

Little wonder they’ve been commended for the fifth year straight by the Wine Spectator Restaurant Wine List Awards for their outstanding dedication to wine.

Switching back to the food-side of things, my husband kept things wine-themed by opted for the signature lamb shank in red wine jus, with a side of polenta.

Full to the gills with squid by then, he was happy to find his portion was just one of the two shanks the menu picture promised, or else we’d definitely be leaving with a doggy bag or two.

There’s an extensive page of pasta sauces to pair with penne, linguine and my ultimate downfall, gnocchi. I’d heard good things about the butter chicken curry sauce but in the end the ‘authenticity’ of the Balducci carbonara, including bacon bits, ham blocks, salami slivers and creamy Parmesan won out.

The portion was enormous and despite my hunger, I just couldn’t do the serving justice.

Wow-worthy white chocolate cheesecakes and cocktails

Luckily, my ‘dessert stomach’ was still in force as we had eyed all sorts of drool-worthy descriptions on our first run through the menu.

It was a slice of the white Lindt-laced Philly-style cheesecake for me and the signature white Nile chocolate martini’ for him, featuring white Lindt chocolate, Amarula, Cointreau and Nachtmusik.

Both were delicious but if you’re less carb- and chocolate-minded there’s still something for every palate here, with vegan and banting options like the cauliflower-hemp burger and banting lasagne, as well as seafood sushi galore, thanks to the dedicated Asian Tapas, Noodle and Sushi Bar, adjacent to Balducci’s main entrance.

Balducci's Asian Tapas, Noodle and Sushi Bar. Image supplied

The best part? Balducci is currently running a Winter lunchtime special, which means any non-seafoody pizza or pasta ordered from Monday to Sunday between the hours of 11am and 6pm until 30 September 2019 will only set you back R79.

The 12-piece assorted sushi platter yours for R99 and the 250g grain-fed 28-day matured sirloin, served with your choice of starch or vegetables at R109 – leaving space in both stomach and wallet to add a fancy cocktail or dessert to the mix.

Instagrammers, don't miss the slurp-worthy shakes and picture-perfect burgers at Gibson's

Seated at one of the best tables an Instagrammer could ask for at the V&A Waterfront, with a view over both the harbour and across the Cape Wheel to the lightly-clouded Table Mountain, Gibson's Gourmet Burgers and Ribs is an Instagrammer's dream location...

By Leigh Andrews 20 Feb 2019

If you join the Slick Restaurant Loyalty programme you’ll receive 10% of the bill total credited to your card, redeemable at any Slick Restaurant, as well as a R200 birthday voucher.

Ending with an even sweeter social responsibility flavour, as part of the Slick Group restaurant family, R10 is added to your bill – and immediately refunded, if you so request – in aid of their ‘Giving a helping hand to someone in the dark’ social responsibility initiative.

This helps Tygerberg Hospital offer corneal transplants to those who need it but wouldn’t otherwise have the funds to afford it.

That’s the Balducci way.

*Leigh Andrews was a guest of Balducci. Visit or to make a reservation. You can also follow Balducci’s latest updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.


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