CHEF-PROPRIETOR Giorgio Nava, who pioneered a new approach to meat with the opening of Carne SA in Cape Town in 2008, has taken the enjoyment of prime cuts to another level at his city eateries.
A champion of letting the meat do the talking, Nava is a master chef of specialist steaks, offering a wide variety of familiar and more unusual cuts at the original Carne SA in Keerom Street, and Carne on Kloof in the vibrant Kloof Street precinct. Contrary to most steak houses, you won’t find fancy marinades and sauces at these revered meat establishments, just the best quality cuts coated in the finest olive oil with a sprig of rosemary and a sliver of garlic in the true Italian minimalist tradition. Carne serves both grass and grain fed beef, sourced from a selection of farms.
“There is more to the cow than sirloin, rump and fillet,” says Nava who encourages his patrons to get out of their comfort zones and try some of his diverse and more adventurous cuts. Milanese to the core, Nava, tries to use as much of the animal as he can elevating lesser known cuts to exceptional culinary experiences.
“In Italy we get more than 26 different cuts from an animal. Here in South Africa it is usually not more than 12,” adds Nava who has seen the interest in new cuts of meat grow as people become more familiar with his offerings.
He is particularly fond of prime cuts on the bone as “the meat cooked next to the bone is fantastic.” In addition to the more popular steaks à la carte, the daily chef’s choice is where these more unusual and rare cuts can be explored.
At Carne meat lovers will find delicious cuts very few other restaurants or steak houses can offer such as the gamey La Lombatella hanger steak (situated near the kidneys), Flat Iron steak (on the shoulder), the legendary 1,2kg La Fiorentina T-bone, and a variety of prime cuts on the bone including a 600g Tomahawk sirloin, prime rib as well as rump and fillet on the bone. Both Carne restaurants also offer a cracking 600g free range pork sirloin on the bone.
The Spider steak, considered by many a carnivore as the most succulent and flavourful cut of all, is available exclusively at Carne on Kloof. Also known as the oyster steak, the cut originates from the animal’s hip socket and is shaped like a spider’s web. Fine striations of fat are the secret behind its exceptional texture and flavour. Carne on Kloof also offers other exclusive cuts such as the famous Picanha rump, or beef rump cap, considered the best steak of all by the Brazilians with its signature layer of flavourful fat.
Lamb features prominently on the menu, especially at Carne on Kloof where you’ll find lamb cutlet, lamb rib eye and lamb rump as chef’s choice cuts, subject to availability. All the lamb cuts as well as the beef rump, rib eye and prime cuts on the bone are matured in Carne’s walk-in dry ageing facility to ensure the meat is served at its peak.
Besides his excellent meat selection, Nava’s signature dish is without doubt his silky smooth, homemade ravioli of slow, oven-braised Karoo lamb shoulder drizzled in sage butter. The rich and indulgent roasted marrow bones are another sure favourite of those in the know.
While Carne is unashamedly dedicated to meat lovers, the menu does include a choice of delicious vegetarian antipasti and pasta dishes for the non-meat eaters at your table.
Carne SA in Keerom Street in the Cape Town CBD is open for dinner every evening from Mondays to Saturdays; Carne on Kloof is open for lunch and dinner. For bookings, call 021 424 3460 (Carne SA) or 021 426 5566 (Carne on Kloof) or email [email protected]