Fortunato Mazzone (fondly known as Forti) is a man of many contrasts: a high-tech enthusiast who runs an old-school kitchen equipped with a pot of master, state-of-the-art stock; a qualified economist who has studied opera and law and a chef with no fear of expressing his ideals through his food.
Several meals on the menu are made using four to five ingredients. In the fine dining environment, people expect complicated dishes, whereas Forti enjoys a piece of grass-fed beef with duck fat-roasted potatoes and just a knob of compound butter.
The pasta is produced fresh and cooked to order. All meats and fish are sourced from ethical producers. The kitchen is manned by a staff of 20 (three Culinary Springboks, a talented pastry chef, plus some ‘real vets’). The family business supplies artisan bread to Forti Grill & Bar along with a classic ciabatta called Pangiovanni after Forti’s father, Giovanni, who founded the groundbreaking Giovanni’s Pizzeria in Pretoria. Since 1976 there’s been a dish on the menu called Prawns of My Father (prawns baked in the oven with champagne, garlic and butter, served with creamy Parmesan rice). Another one is Lumaconi (pasta shells stuffed with veal, spinach, ricotta and mushrooms and then baked under a Parmesan crust).
The menu is broken down into beef cuts; hors d’oeuvres; a selection of meat, fish, poultry and duck; plus two pages of pasta; vegan dishes and a dessert section. Also on offer is the Sunday Italian Feast and a popular five-course gastronomic menu.
Brickwork walls and Spanish ceramic stone flooring composite with brass strips are foils for copper-coloured pendant lights and repurposed chandeliers. Ergonomically designed chairs ensure a relaxing meal, while white marble table tops inject tenser sophistication. The wine cellar doubles up as a private dining space for 20. Abstract art punctuates the décor with bright pops of colour, acting as a permanent, shifting gallery.
A mint-green concours condition 1974 P200 Sport Vespa is parked near the door; a Berkel 1898 slicer takes pride of place by the humidor, stocked with fine cigars from Arturo Fuente to Partagas; the in-house butchery is filled with 1940s Ferrari red OKTO equipment and an oak butcher block weighing 1 000kg. The wine list is sourced from eight different countries. The South African-born chef and sommelier holds the titles Commandeur de Bordeaux and Chevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.
Time Square Sun International Casino, Corner of Aramist & Corobay Street, Menlyn Maine, Pretoria. Sun-Thurs from 11h45-22h and Fri & Sat from 11h45-24h. Tel: 012 003 6181 / 083 467 2588 / 076 260 3025; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.forti.co.za
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