Oct 15th 2010, 23:44

“Ah, good, lousy location,” says my companion, as we approach Il Leone’s terrace, which offers an uninspiring view across the Translux bus depot.

According to his philosophy,worthwhile Italian ristorantes are often found in grungy surroundings, as they rely on good food alone, and not scenic views, to attract customers. He steers me inside, where cool, crisp linen, golden wooden floors, and striking floral and nude art pieces whet the appetite. I order the Penne Muscovite (R65), which comes highly recommended from a friend. It’s described as penne served with a tomato and cream sauce with a hint of vodka and garden peas. My companion opts for Petti di Pollo (R75), chicken breast, choosing to have it served with mustard sauce. Before tucking in, the waiter wraps an oversized bib around me to spare my outfit from tomato and olive oil. We spent our lunch praising peas and mustard. The peas were served crunchy and glowing green, but the creamy tomato sauce was unremarkable, with no hint of vodka.

The mustard sauce was perfectly piquant and dominated the plate to such an extent that the chicken became almost irrelevant.We enjoyed our lunch and the understated elegance, attentive service and unhurried atmosphere of Il Leone.

Our visit left us with an appetite for other more exciting options on Il Leone’s menu, and for a different atmosphere, perhaps at night-time. By the time we leave, a few glasses of Haute Cabrière later, even the bus depot begins to look appealing.

Il Leone Mastrantonio, 22 Cobern St, corner of Prestwich St. De Waterkant, 021 421 0071.
021 Magazine visited this restaurant incognito and paid for meal in full.

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