Our visit to Gianni’s Ristorante in Ballito — which has the most amazing beach and sea views and on a clear day views all the way to Durban and the harbour entrance — was a truly excellent experience. We got the chance to chat to the owner, John Coburn, who is totally passionate about his restaurant. He knows the menu like the back of his hand and gets excited about the long list of must-try’s. I was also very impressed with how fresh everything was — only the best of the best!
For starters we had the Cozze Pot (mussels served with a white wine,olive oil, parsely and garlic sauce), which was prepared to perfection, and a decent portion size, and then we also had the best oysters that I have ever tasted, they were fresh, huge! For mains John insisted that we try the Seafood Platter and the Oven-baked Chicken and I am very glad that he did, as we were extremely impressed with both dishes. My platter was generous (a take-away was required).The crayfish was the perfect size for saying, ‘Yes! I have found the perfect spot for the best crayfish on the North Coast, plus the most amazing view!’ The entire platter was grilled to perfection and the prawns, fish and calamari were all very tasty —with 3 tasting sauces that just finished the platter perfectly, a definite must-do-again. Justin had the Half-Chicken Peri-Peri, perfectly basted and it was baked in the pizza oven and served with baked potato and vegetables. The 45-minutewait was well worth it, allowing us a leisurely chat as we watched the waves and reminisced about the perfect place we live in — Ballito, of course — before the perfectly-cooked chicken arrived. Justin was enormously impressed — it was tasty and moist, with a fabulous flavour with just the right kick (but not so hot that you couldn’t enjoy it to the last bite). At the end of our meal, I tried the Mousse Al Cioccolata (chocolate mousse) with a very good cappuccino — the perfect way to end a fabulous meal.
We also love the fact that John is actively pursuing the breakfast market. The one thing that we have always done wherever we go, is to breakfast on the beach and Ballito has been hugely lacking in that area — but not any longer! The breakfast options are small enough not be confusing, but varied enough to have options. The French toast served with bacon and banana, topped with rocket and golden syrup, is a must-try, as is the Mama’s Breakfast (R25). The restaurant offers breakfast from 7.30a.m, a nice variety of lunch specials, pizza and a kids’ menu, plus an à la carte dinner menu. Families are most welcome, but there is no special kids’ area.
It was interesting to note that nothing here is made in the same way as everywhere else. John has added his personal touch to everything and his vast travel and eating experience has been carried into his menu — and it shows. We had a superb experience at Gianni’s, where the food was great and the view even better. At weekends you need to book or you won’t get a seat (especially not one with a view)!