Dolci Café Is A Family Affair
Dolci Café – one of Johannesburg’s destination restaurants when it comes to authentic Italian cuisine – has an impressive pedigree. It’s owned and run by Chef Jackie Righi-Boyd and her husband, actor Clayton Boyd (Generations: The Legacy is just one of his impressive credits) as well as their partner Zoran Mijailovic. Righi-Boyd comes from a dynasty of restaurateurs and her mother – super-nonna-chef Luciana Righi of Assaggi, Tre Nonni and Amarcord fame – is part of the team in this friendly neighbourhood eatery.
Although the restaurant business is in her blood, Chef Jackie was originally not interested in a career in food. It was only in her final year of university, studying industrial and organisational psychology, that she started a pastry course and fell in love with patisserie. After working in the corporate world for four years, she ended up as an apprentice to a pastry chef in Italy.
“Dolci Café is truly a family affair and I love it," Chef Jackie tells me over a bold and well-bodied double shot espresso. "It’s hard work but I wouldn’t want to do anything else. People sitting in your shop, having an amazing experience and coming back with their friends and family and telling you how much they love your restaurant makes it all worthwhile. I especially love making birthday cakes for the same people each year and being a part of their lives and special occasions.”
From Pasticceria To Trattoria
Dolci Café originally opened in 2015 as a small Italian pasticceria (pastry café ) but has evolved into one of the Joburg's favourite trattorias (a laid-back Italian eatery), tripling in size along the way. On the menu are many of the signature dishes found on Luciana’s past menus, including zucchini chips, Lasagne Brie (a twist on the classic made with melt-in-your-mouth, thin, home-made pasta, oozing Brie and asparagus), fluffy gnocchi, as well as a selection of delicious veal dishes.
There’s also Tagliata di Manzo (sliced beef fillet with slow-cooked Italian tomatoes and potato wedges), Tagliatelle Ragù (home-made flat pasta with the traditional Bolognese sauce) and the Cotoletta di Pollo (chicken schnitzel served with freshly sliced tomato, boiled baby potatoes in butter and parsley and a home-made cheese sauce).
Desserts are a highlight and include Italian pasticcini, tiramisu and the sublime Dolce Della Nonna, Jackie’s grandmother’s and Luciana’s mother’s famous dessert comprised of layers of zabaglione, cream, Amaretti biscuits, pecan nuts and dark chocolate. Over and above the comprehensive restaurant menu, Dolci Café also offers fabulous pastries and desserts including cannoli (cream horns), lemon meringue and bignè (eclairs). A delicious high tea can be booked in advance.
Although Dolci Café's focus is Italian, there are some other items on the menu including hamburgers, and tapas such as jalapeño poppers and falafel.
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 a range of top South African and international wines. The address is Shop 6, Lancaster Village, 28 Clarence Avenue, Craighall Park, Johannesburg. Telephone: 010 900 2274.