The old adage states that a change is as good as a holiday for any person, and in a different sort of way this can apply to hospitality venues that ring in the changes from time to time. Of course, sometimes the change works and sometimes it does not.
A change that has certainly worked not once but twice for Harare’s Little Eataly restaurant is a change of location. This charming and friendly restaurant started out life a few years ago in the Msasa industrial area, on the Doon Estate retail complex.
When the retail aspects of the centre became less busy, the restaurant moved home for the first time, re-opening in the Alexandra Park.
And now it has moved a second time, re-opening just a few weeks ago in the One Hurworth Road retail and hospitality complex in Highlands.
This new home is also the home of the popular Queen of Hearts restaurant, run by Angela Bowen, whose vision has been to create a busy and buzzy venue full of character and energy, and this has certainly been achieved. Whenever people ask me which is Harare’s busiest restaurant, I usually point out Queen of Hearts as one of the contenders, based on observations over many visits at differing times of the day and week.
There have been many good reasons for Little Eataly to move about over the years, but it seems to me this new move is a good one and that it will work out for them very well.
I hope they find much success in One Hurworth Road and I know Luca and Christine Cassini, the owners, will make a good go of the opportunities that unfold here, as well as bring a great deal of creativity to the ever-extending list of cuisine styles on offer within this complex.
I had a chance to enjoy lunch there this week and was impressed at how the restaurant has been created on the eastern side of the venue, with its own compact dining area, leading into what can probably best be described as a communal dining area in the garden and on a terrace, from where order can be placed from the various dining offerings on site.
Little Eataly is, of course, a clever name, and the style is wholly Italian. A key feature is the restaurant’s own pasta, always fresh and pleasant, and in the past I have also sampled some of their own gelato, too.
The menu is varied but not overwhelmingly long, and a specials board points to any additional offerings. My guest and I did not do starters, but went straight for main course: a generous plate of chicken thighs with mashed potatoes and salad for my guest and for me the tagliatelle with creamed chicken, broccoli and mushrooms.
These were both very satisfying and tasty. For dessert, I had the granadilla cheesecake, while my guest selected the raspberry panna cotta, each a great delight.
We ended with cups of espresso. Prices are reasonable and very much in keeping with current charges at restaurants in Harare.
The bar alongside the restaurant is operated by the Horsebox Bar that also runs the other outlets on site, which was well stocked with wines, beers and spirits, but from which we ordered fruit juices.
We chatted with Luca and he expressed satisfaction with early results of the move to the new venue. I should think that, along with longstanding regulars who have supported at both previous venues, new customers are coming on board, especially those who frequent the Queen of Hearts site quite often.
Luca also talked about a plan to open a retail spot adjacent to the restaurant, at which shoppers will be able to but Cassini-branded pasta, fresh, frozen or dry; this is an excellent idea.
Little Eataly is a genuine Italian-cuisine restaurant with a well-deserved reputation for good food and good service. It is and is open from Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, as well as in-between dining, and on Sunday until late afternoon.
I strongly recommend reservations, especially at obviously busy times like Friday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes, and these can be made through calling 0776 745727.
Any feedback is welcome and can be sent to [email protected]