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Restaurant of the week: A pasta bar to try straight from Italy

Cape Town’s first pasta bar, Scala, have officially opened their doors with Italian head chef Luciano Monosilio at the helm

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By House & Garden South Africa | November 3, 2022 | Travel Leisure

On Church Street, mere minutes from Cape Town’s culinary hub of Bree Street, sits Scala Pasta, the newest addition to the CBD’s ever-growing eatery portfolio and the first pasta bar of its kind in the city.

Restauranter Paolo Carrara (Burger & Lobster, Iron Steak and Hacienda), together with his partners Niko Tiftikidis and Anthony Protoulis, has tapped into the pasta bar trend that has emerged in major cities around the world, by teaming up with his longtime friend and Michelin-star chef, Luciano Monosilio, to serve tapas-style pasta dishes of established recipes with an edge.

Spaghetto di semolina alla carbonara - the house signature dish, Image supplied

“From the minute you arrive at Scala, you will think funky, trendy and modern but all done with Italian class. With each bite, we want our guests to be transported to Italy as if you are eating at Luciano’s restaurant in Rome. Everything we serve and how we serve it, is how Luciano does it at his restaurant. You cannot get more Italian than that,” Paolo enthuses.

Meaning steps in Italian, Scala pays homage to the famed La Scala Opera House in Milan, and its open-plan design allows for you to see into the kitchen and watch the drama unfold, much like one would at its namesake. With their focus very much on pasta as the main attraction, Scala utilises their kitchen as a stage to present the three kinds of pasta they create daily in their “Pasta Laboratory”– semolina, organic eggs, and tips oo flour.

Luciano is affectionately dubbed the King Of Carbonara, so it is no surprise that his signature carbonara is a must-order. Influenced by his seminal years in Rome, the balance of egg and Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano results in a lightly coated al dente (with a bit of a bite) pasta that surprises with crispy bursts of guanciale (pork cheek). When asked when his fascination with carbonara began Luciano explains, “It started in 2012 at my first restaurant Pipero al Rex. I put all of my modern knowledge and fine-dining techniques in every one of my dishes to make them subtle, in a good way, as I did with the carbonara.”

An array of dishes that can be found at the new Scala restaurant, Image supplied

Paolo also recommends the pici cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), a complementary blend of crushed black peppercorns and Pecorino Romano that creates a vibrant, tangy sauce to accompany the hand-rolled oo pici. Egg tortelli, filled with coal-roasted tomatoes and accompanied by light lashings of burrata (cow’s milk Italian cheese) and a healthy dusting of black truffle is another highlight on the pasta menu - from which it is suggested to order three to five dishes per couple.

The seafood dish that is a crowd pleaser, Image supplied

Even though pasta is the main character, meat, poultry, seafood and vegetarian dishes– prepared using their premiere Josper charcoal oven imported from Spain–make up Scala’s scrumptious supporting cast, with executive chef Justin Barker overseeing daily kitchen proceedings.

With a twist on the simplicity of classic staples, Scala has refreshed traditional Italian cuisine for a modern era and a new generation primed to fall in love with pasta all over again.

Pappardelle chicken ragu, Image supplied

Words originally by Tecla Ciolfi