Dolci Café in Joburg will transport your taste buds to Italy

There’s a good selection of rich options, interspersed with lighter menu items. A must-try is the lasagne brie.

Leafy Johannesburg suburbs have all the charm, and some of the best little spots to eat in the city. But if you want authentic Italian, set your sights on Craighall Park’s Dolci Café, so authentic in fact, nonna is in the kitchen – speaking Italian.

Dolci Café opened in 2015 as a small Italian pasticceria (or pastry café) that was one of those local hot spot secrets everyone knew about. Since then, it has become a full-fledged trattoria.

The casualness adds to the authentic foods that emerge from the kitchen, that will have you licking your lips as it passes you on the arms of the friendly waiters – and you begrudgingly watch others eat the fabulous meals as you wait for your own.

As I discovered, the short wait is worth it, regardless of what you order.

Chef Jackie Righi-Boyd, her husband Clayton Boyd and their partner Zoran Mijailovic are to thank for this little slice of paradiso. What they created is an inviting setting that feels like home.

“Apart from my mother, my father is also a chef and was brought to South Africa from Italy in the ’80s to work in one of the old Italian restaurants in downtown Joburg.

“I met Clayton in a well-known Cape Town restaurant where we were both working – he as a waiter and me as a hostess – and we got married five years later.”

Chef Jackie Righi-Boyd with her mother, Luciana Righi.

Dolci Café as a result makes sense. But it’s the food that steals the show and that’s thanks to a range of meat, pasta and salad dishes, as well as sweeter items.

Their decision to open the space should be lauded. Ingredients tend to be authentically Italian, yet reasonably priced.

There’s a good selection of rich options, interspersed with lighter menu items. A must-try is the lasagne brie, which is served with asparagus.

The menu is complimented by the wine list – and you can see that, between Jackie and Clayton, a lot of thought went into making it a 360° experience in Italian authenticity in South Africa.

Image result for dolci cafe

I was lucky to sip on a Vino Frizzante Bianco, a sparkling wine on tap from Italy that is a Prosecco-style fizz festival. We also sipped on a rich Antica Vigna Valpolicello.

The imports aren’t too heavy on the pocket, considering restaurants usually have high markups.

What sets Dolci apart is that, as our Italian palate tends to associate the cuisine with items like pizza, Dolci doesn’t even include it on the menu. Instead, it’s a real fair of Italian cooking that we so often need to break these kind of associations.

But they have cleverly worked in a few global menu items, like steak tartare, jalapeno poppers and even hamburgers. Even picky eaters will be catered to.

Trippa alla Romagnola. Picture: Facebook

If you’re looking for something special, the restaurant also hosts high teas that are perfect in its setting. Now, go on, and tell the neighbourhood.

Or, if you want to experience a taste of Dolci at home, Righi-Boyd has shared three of her recipes:


  • Dolci Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday and for breakfast and lunch on Sundays.
  • It is fully licensed and offers an array of top South African and international wines.
  • The address is Shop 6, Lancaster Village, 28 Clarence Avenue. Craighall Park, Johannesburg.
  • Telephone: 010-900- 2274.

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