Assaggi (meaning taste) is Italian in every sense of the word, with Luciana, the current chef, taking over from her son in 2002. By ensuring it remains a family-run affair, the restaurant wouldn’t look out of place in an Italian city, although, rather surprisingly, it is found in one of Jo’burg’s shopping centres. The atmosphere is unpretentious and casual, with unfussy décor that includes crisp white tablecloths and beech-wood chairs for an uncluttered aesthetic. Diners can expect frenetic Italian energy to unfold all around them, especially when Luciana is on the prowl, taking orders, barking at staff and running about the place with piled-high plates of food. You could, of course, try to soften her up with a few choice words in Italian – something she welcomes and will engender instant fondness. The simple menu comprises all the usual Italian staples, using only the freshest ingredients and offering up a slice of homemade goodness to its pasta-loving patrons.