Septimo — Italy On Nelson Mandela Square

Nelson Mandela Square’s latest addition – Septimo Italian Market & Restaurant – comes with an impressive pedigree. This chic establishment is the brainchild of Paul Lycos, a third-generation restaurateur, whose family has owned eateries in both France and the US.

Septimo is Italian for “seventh” and represents the seventh decade of a tradition of preparing family recipes. After World War 2, owner Paul Lycos’ French grandparents opened and ran two Parisian restaurants, L’Ideal Bar near the Champs-Élysées and La Comete near Montmartre, both of which exist to this day. Their daughter Martine (Paul’s mother) emigrated to the United States, and it was while she was raising her young family that she and her Greek husband, Athanassios, decided to buy their own establishment, Terry’s Italian Restaurant in Pennsylvania. It had been run by Roberto and Teriza Mugione from 1951 to 1980 and when they sold they passed on all recipes to Paul’s parents who owned the restaurant from then until 2010.

Now, their son Paul and his cousin Andreas Kaiafas are continuing the tradition with the third instalment, bringing 70 years of flavours, family and fun right to you in the world-famous Nelson Mandela Square.

Some of the dishes on the menu are those from Lycos’ childhood and which he describes as Italian-American cuisine that you would find in any restaurant in Little Italy in New York or South Street in Philadelphia. They can be found on the nostalgia section of the Septimo menu and include chicken or aubergine parmigiana, ricotta lasagne, home-made ravioli with Napoli sauce and spaghetti and meatballs.

Signature dishes include pan-seared sea bass with crispy skin, blistered cherry tomatoes and citrus emulsion; grilled Mozambican prawns served with polenta cake and arrabbiata sauce; wood-fired whole baby chicken and a 350g, 45-day, dry-aged, grass-fed New York strip (sirloin) with a coffee and black pepper rub which is served with a delicious jus and thrice-fried Parmesan black pepper chips.

For diners who want a more modern take on Italian food, there are dishes such as char-grilled octopus, served with cannellini bean hummus and pickled onions; kale salad with crispy pancetta, apple, roasted pine nuts, croutons and a Parmesan vinaigrette or crispy pork belly with creamy polenta and a passion fruit balsamic glaze.

The pizzas from the wood fire oven have thin crusts and come with a variety of toppings, from Margarita with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil to Prosciutto with pancetta, fig and wild rocket.

For desserts, opt for the limoncello meringue, classic tiramisu, flourless chocolate torte or the salted caramel poached pears.

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