Did you know that the Italians have been roasting birds on spits since the Etruscans in 700 BC? Cooking only free range, ethically reared chickens on their wood-burning rotisserie, Rosto restaurant in Linden, Johannesburg is tapping into South Africans love of chicken and using a traditional Italian cooking method to give it some oomph.
The restaurant, which nicely balances casual and comfy with upmarket, takes its name from Italy’s Giarrosto shops which serve spit-roasted chickens and Italian street food. The chicken is first marinated in a homemade brine before being cooked on the spit and doused in three different Italian-inspired flavours – red (chili, sundried tomato and garlic), yellow (lemon and Mediterranean herbs) and green (parmesan and rosemary).
Sides include panelle (Sicilian chickpea fries) and twice fried chips; arancini (risotto croquettes) which are stuffed with ragu (red), butternut and mozzarella (yellow) or spinach, ham and provolone (green). There is also slaw, green salad and corn on the cob.
The traditional focaccia, made with unbleached stoneground flour, extra virgin olive oil and a natural yeast which started its life nearly 100 years ago in a small family bakery in the foothills of the Alps, is delicious!
For those wanting something other than poultry, there is a baked lasagna. Vegetarian options include spinach and ricotta cannelloni and parmigiana di Melanzane. The pasta used is made from scratch, using free range eggs.
The dessert variety is kept small but classic with fantastic tiramisu and semifreddo, as well as panna cotta and granita.