Septimo, Luscious, Fresh Italian Fare at Nelson Mandela Square
Septimo is a refreshing addition to the restaurant offerings at Nelson Mandela Square. The fresh, Italian menu showcases local, sustainable ingredients with genuine Mediterranean flair.
Nelson Mandela Square is amongst my favorite Sandton dining destinations. With its hustle and bustle, the expansive square is always a great spot to relax over lunch or sundowners, especially in the spring and summer.
The Square is a natural spot to take out of town guests for the obligatory Mandela photo op and a good meal. The fact that the Square boasts a wide variety of restaurants has always been a plus. And, Septimo — the new kid on the block — is an excellent addition to the mix.
If, like me, the Square makes you yearn for a fresh, light Mediterranean experience, Septimo is the spot for you. The decor and the food are smart, yet accessible — modern Italian at its best.
A Family Affair
Septimo is a collaboration between two cousins, Andreas and Paul. Thus, the concept, hospitality and food reflect their family’s 70 year history in the restaurant business.
This rich legacy begins with Paul and Andreas’ grandparents, who opened a bistro in Paris shortly after World War II. Subsequently, they spent their lifetimes serving up good food and smiles in an atmosphere that made everybody feel like family.
When Paul’s mother grew up, she emigrated to the US. There, she and Paul’s father owned and operated a family style Italian eatery just outside Philadelphia.
Fortunately for us, Paul and Andreas have decided to carry on their family’s rich tradition right here in Sandton, at Nelson Mandela Square. Their restaurant, Septimo, offers light, fresh, modern food. Nonetheless, its ambiance is permeated with old-fashioned warmth and friendliness.
Septimo’s menu is so diverse that it is impossible to do it justice in one visit. Dishes range from fresh, homemade pastas and wood-fired pizzas, to Italian American favorites and modern, signature dishes. Septimo’s wine menu consists of a modest, yet carefully chosen, selection of domestic and international bottles. Finally, the restaurant boasts a delightful selection of authentic French breads and pastries.
On a recent visit, my husband and I chose a couple of classic dishes — insalata caprese and aubergine parmigiana. In addition, we opted for two signature items — char grilled octopus, and prime aged fillet with a coffee and black pepper dry rub.
Everything was delicious. The steak was cooked to perfection. Fries were proper frites — light, fresh, and crisp.
However, the real stars of the meal were the char grilled octopus and the aubergine parmigiana. The octopus — which disappeared before I could photograph it — is accompanied by a light hummus, and lovely pickled onions. Then, it is garnished with citrus emulsion and lemon zest, providing a light, bright contrast to the meat’s smoky notes. Best of all, the octopus itself was tender and flavorful.
The aubergine parmigiana was also exquisite. This is one of my favorite Italian American dishes and Septimo’s is one of the best I’ve eaten. It is delicious and well balanced. The aubergines are perfectly cooked and not even remotely oily. Moreover, the tomato sauce is superlative — light and bursting with ripe tomato flavor.
Planning Your Visit
Septimo is a restaurant that makes you want to go back for more. The food is interesting and flavorful, and the service is professional and understated. Moreover, it is a quiet restaurant, which makes it as ideal for a productive business lunch as it is for a romantic date.
Portions are generous. So, if your appetite is small, you may want to order family style (to share) or stick with one plate to start.
That way, you’ll still have room for pastries! However, if you’re like me, you’ll want to taste a little bit of everything. Never fear, you can still pop over to the market and take a few pastries home!
Reservations are not required. However, if you plan to visit Septimo at a busy time or for a special occasion, you ought to book in advance.
Septimo Mandela Square
31 Nelson Mandela Square
Sandton, South Africa, 2196
011 077 7777
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Mon-Fri 8:00am – 10pm
Sat-Sun 10:00am – 11pm