Last updated on May 11th, 2018 at 01:56 pm

Col’Cacchio has been serving the finest Italian-inspired meals made with the freshest homemade ingredients to South African fans for 25 years, and my recent dinner at their Emperor’s Palace restaurant was divinely delicious – and featured all my favourite flavours.

They’re loved by the nation for their artisinal, wood-fired pizzas and gourmet pastas but their starters and desserts are pretty damn delicious too!

My vegetariano antipasto was a mezze delight – a platter of gorgeous gastronomic flavours to devour: tomato and mozzarella slices, artichokes, baby marrows, roasted red peppers and black olives so juicy you’ll think you’re in Italy.

A table upstairs with a view of the bustling and vibey Latin-themed Emperor’s Palace added to the atmosphere, and friendly waiters and manager Reggie were always around to make suggestions and refill wine glasses.

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Cheesy, gourmet pizzas – with wheat and gluten-free options too

Col’Cacchio was one of the first in the market to introduce carb-conscious, banting-friendly options for pizza, salad and pasta. Now they’re offering gluten-free and vegan alternatives, as well as the low-calorie Foro range of pizzas.

Some of the new, fresh and light additions to the menu:

Giardino Salad – lettuce, spinach, rocket, zucchetti, broccoli, avocado, egg, sesame seeds and truffle yuzu dressing

Sorrento Salad – lettuce, roasted butternut, roasted red pepper, grilled baby marrow, pumpkin seeds, basil, spicy seed brittle, sweet potato strings, ranch dressing

Zucca Pizza – vegan cheese, butternut and tomato base, roasted butternut, roasted beetroot, rocket, avo, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds

Citrus Pancake Dessert – pancakes with fresh orange segments, orange sauce, vanilla ice cream

Portions are massive (my kinda place) but even I couldn’t finish my avo, bacon and feta pizza (I’m blaming the yummy herb bread that accompanied my antipasta starter).

Don’t be like me: leave space for dessert!

There’s a carb-conscious cheesecake if you want to indulge in guilt-free pudding, and of course tiramisu is a must when dining Italian style. Chocolate panna cotta is on the menu too and so is chocolate pizza – made with Nutella (See why I’m kicking myself for not making it to dessert?)

There’s a Toblerone cocktail I’m definitely trying next time, a mocktail menu and salted caramel and Bar One milkshakes for the kids, and craft beer for Dad!

Service is slick, ingredients are fresh and wholesome – and everyone from carnivores to vegans will be spoilt for choice with the menu. A real Italian pizza experience at branches all over SA!

Don’t forget to take pics: food so beautiful it’s Instagram ready

Col’Cacchio has added a fun and engaging element to their dining experience.

Tables now feature funky, interactive “Instagram Placemats” with guidelines on how to take the perfect shot to share with your friends on social media – no filter required.

For more info visit www.colcacchio.co.za or hop onto the social media platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColCacchio/

Twitter: @ColCacchio

Instagram: @colcacchio