A couple of weeks ago I received an invite to have dinner at ROSTO. Even though ROSTO opened its doors in September 2016 in Linden (Johannesburg), I hadn’t heard of it before. Maybe because we were living on the other side of the country? But now I am delighted to share my review of this awesome little place with you.
Linden is fast becoming one of the most happening Joburg suburbs to live in. It’s also great for a bit of shopping (think Rialheim) & with a variety of eateries, you can also satisfy those hunger pangs in a jiffy.
Trying to imagine an Italian place that does not serve pizza or loads of pasta feels strange. For me, Italian restaurants in South Africa are decorated in red, green, white. They serve pizza & pasta.
But ROSTO is probably more Italian than most of the Italian eateries that you’ll find in Jozi.
My friend Karie – who knows her stuff when it comes to eateries & food – was my date for the evening & we had a really good time.
Where it all started
In Italian, GIRARROSTO literally means TURN (gira) & ROASTED (arrosto). I have not been to Italy (hello, bucket list), but apparently, you find GIRARROSTO shops all over Italy. According to the team at Rosto, roasting birds on spits has been a thing since 700 BC. So you might have guessed that the main attraction here is the 100% happy, free range wood-fired spit-roasted chicken.
The Atmosphere & Decor
We were welcomed by our super duper friendly waitress who explained the menu with such gusto that it made our mouths water straight away.
The amount of couples & groups dining here in the middle of the week shows that ROSTO is a relaxed mid-week dinner spot. Laidback & affordable.
ROSTO is owned & managed by Alex Greenleaf, who runs the daily operations, & his second cousin, Lance, who lives in Italy. Lance is in charge of the décor & I think he did a great job. Apparently, the cushions were made from real flour bags from Italy & he also personally made some of the lamp shades in Italy, so these are authentic as can be! The yellow accent in the decor is unique & I especially love the little yellow car mounted below the barista station.
Note the taps with rooster knobs when you visit the restroom on your visit.
This part of the menu requires some time to peruse because of the variety of craft gins, Italian style cocktails, local craft beers & imported Italian beers available. Karie tried the Livingstone Botanical Gin & tonic which was a winner.
I chose an aperiTea which is essentially a cocktail tea bag imported from Italy that is infused in a double shot of rum, gin or vodka & then mixed with tonic, soda or lemonade. I am in love. I had the Alternativa with fig, melon, rose & ginger; mixed with Spice Gold Rum & ginger ale. Next time I’m trying the Apotéosi with Blue Earl Grey Tea, Gin & Tonic – three of my favourite things in the same glass!
The atmosphere & food really showcases the broad & deep culinary history of Italy which is much more vast than pizza & pasta. Essentially you will be getting an idea of real Italian street food here.
You cannot say you’ve been to ROSTO if you haven’t tried their unbelievable homemade focaccia. Starting at R12 a slice, you might be tempted to have three slices in one sitting. We tried the red pesto & pancetta focaccia. If you had seen us scoffing it, you would know how delicious it is.
Next up: the IlFritto section of the menu (all priced between R25 & R39 a portion). Each item here was super yummy; the freshly made twice fried chips, as well as the unique Chickpea Fries (Panelle). I would, however, have loved to dip them in a sauce of some kind.
A very interesting dish on the menu is The Arancino (Rice Croquettes, R30 each) which comes in three flavours – Ragù; Spinach, Ham & Provolone. Our choice: the butternut & smoked mozzarella. Karie loved it, but I was not convinced. It felt like I was eating deep fried leftovers. And, after chatting to Alex, I was actually rather impressed to learn that, in Italy, the Rice Croquette is in fact typically made of leftover rice & another filling. It is actually a great way not to waste food, don’t you think?
I can strongly recommend the Agnello e Pistacchio aka lamb & pistachio meatballs served in ROSTO sugo with rosemary & pecorino cheese. This dish is worth every set of the R110.
The star of the show at ROSTO is supposed to be the rotisserie chicken – available in three flavour options (mountain herbs, Mediterranean herbs or sundried tomatoes). You can order anything from a Quarter Chicken (half breast & wing or drumstick & thigh for R55) to a whole bird (R170). The chicken was slightly too dry, but that is my personal opinion.
My least favourite part of the meal was the coleslaw which I found had way too much mayo on.
ROSTO also offers pork dishes on a Thursday & Porchetta Sundays (aka spit-roasted deboned pork).
Something important to remember when you visit ROSTO: leave enough space for the dessert. It is d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. I fell head over heels for the Semifreddo al Torrone which is homemade nougat ice cream. The Nutella chocolate mousse with a bit of orange zest got a very close second place.
The menu also includes two pasta dishes, salads & oven-baked alternatives.
ROSTO is for those who… always have orders envy or who like to sample food from everyone else’s plates. The vibe is casual, the portions are very generous & you are encouraged to share food & have a relaxed time.
ROSTO is not for those who… are on a diet because the crisps, flatbread & desserts are way too delicious to resist.
The verdict: I can totally see myself sipping a boozy tea drink while chatting & feasting on focaccia, those meatballs & chips very soon. I recommend that you book your dinner at ROSTO today still.
ROSTO is open from 5 pm to 9 pm on Tuesdays; 12 pm to 9 pm from Wednesday to Friday & 11 am to 9 pm on Saturdays & Sundays. Closed on Mondays.
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ROSTO is located at 69 7th Street, Linden. To book, call 011 888 0369.
Take your friends, your family. You’ll love it.
Images: My own & supplied.
*Our dinner was courtesy of ROSTO, but all opinions are honest & my own.