• Along Sea Point’s buzzing Regent Road, amid a long lineup of new bars, breezy brunch spots and seasoned restaurants, you’ll find Ariel, a modern Italian eatery bubbling with cool character and even cooler hostesses.


    If you didn’t go there to eat, you’d want to go just to sit in its ridiculously attractive setting – a big open space characterised by pared back neutral hues, contemporary furnishings, olive trees and a beautiful bar – it’s very Condé Naste, in all the right ways.

    Picture: @ariel_capetown / Instagram

    No Name Hospitality Group, the team behind Jarryds Brunch and Bistro and now Ariel, describes the restaurant’s style as ‘Napoli meets New York,’ but for the normal people not with the jetset, you’d just say ‘it’s a vibe’.

    No matter what you call it, one look around and you’ll find yourself in a little slice of Italy on the Atlantic Seaboard. A long table of friends shares food and laughs; a couple whispers sweet nothings over a bowl of pasta; formally-dressed waiters weave in between the tables; and two old friends meet at the bar for a drink and a catch up.

    Picture: @ariel_capetown / Instagram

    The menu is true to Italian dining and divided into various sections, not including the separate antipasto menu, which features a list of appetisers that are so good, you could walk away with a happy tummy without even getting to the big stuff.

    Highlights? The wood-fired flat bread. It’s stretchy and warm and the perfect sponge for soaking up anything and everything, like the lemony dressing of the white anchovies or the herby whipped ricotta.

    Flat bread, whipped ricotta and charcuterie. Picture: @ariel_capetown / Instagram

    But you’ll have to show some restraint with the antipasto if you want to sample the following courses: buoni prodotti (starters), primi piatti (pastas), pizza napoletana, secondi piatti (meat, fish or veg mains), contorno (sides), and dolci (dessert).

    Of course, everything that comes out of the kitchen is legit, for example, the pizza. The dough is made with Doppio Zero flour, the tomatoes are San Marzano, and the mozzarella is none other than Fior di Latte. And that’s just the base; the toppings pair simple but meant-for-each-other flavours like pepperoni and chilli, or mushrooms, black truffle and basil – it’s all drool-worthy.

    Picture: @ariel_capetown / Instagram

    And the pasta – you could write a book about the pasta. Ariel boasts a bevy of beauties – from a standup carbonara and a cheesy baked gnocchi to a saucy lamb ragu parpadelle, but the top pick has to go to the spinach and ricotta ravioli; it’s insanely good.

    Gnocchi al forno. Picture: @ariel_capetown / Instagram

    By the time you get to mains, you’ve already undone the button on your pants. You come to a crossroads where you must now choose whether to skip the main course and go straight for dessert, or vice versa. There is a third option, of course: power through and do both at the risk of your zipper giving up on you. If you can brave it, treat yourself to the queen prawns swimming in a little lake of green salsa and lemon – but save some of that flat bread to mop up the zesty goodness.

    The Wagyu burger forms part of the secondi piatti course. Picture: @ariel_capetown / Instagram

    The cocktail menu features a lineup of classic concoctions, dressed up and presented with serious pizazz – these barmen got skills! However, the margarita and the cloudy apple seem to be favourites among the regulars.

    If cocktails aren’t your thing, never fear. Wine is – to quote our favourite Anchorman – ‘kind of a big deal’ at Ariel. Not only does the place have a slick-talking sommelier who charms you into dropping a couple hundred bucks on some Italian wine you’ve never heard of, it also has a sexy wine bar tucked away behind its dining area. Everything here is moody and sophisticated and set up for sipping on your favourite white or red, before Daniel Craig sidles up to introduce himself as Bond.

    The oh-so-cool wine bar. Picture: @ariel_capetown / Instagram

    Even though it hasn’t been open for long, its customers have already settled in and look right at home, as if they’ve been eating there for decades. It’s obvious that Ariel is the new place to be. It certainly ticks all the boxes. Lively atmosphere, prime location, but maybe the real garlic in its secret sauce is a dedication to ‘friends, togetherness, celebration and joy’. Seems to be a winning combo.

    Please note: No pets allowed. No children under 12 allowed after 5pm.


    • Location: 90 Regent Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town, 8005
    • Times: Monday to Sunday, 12pm to 10pm
    • Contact[email protected] | 021 023 3643
    • Bookings: dineplan.com
    • Website: nonamehg.com/arielcapetown

    ALSO SEE: On our radar: New restaurants showing off Cape Town’s culinary culture

    On our radar: New restaurants showing off Cape Town’s culinary culture

    Written by Kate Walker for Cape {town} Etc.

    Feature image: Kate Walker