People of Joburg

Get to know Chiara from the Café Del Sol group

Oct 10, 2019, Author: Hello Joburg

Not only does the Café Del Sol group own some of the best and most successful Italian restaurants in Joburg, it’s also family run! We chatted to Chiara Viljoen from the group to learn a little bit more about her as well as the restaurants.


Give us a brief rundown on how the Cafe del Sol group was born

It was born around our dining room table at home. Mamma is a true feeder and used to love feeding friends and family. It was them who asked us  and inspired us to open up a restaurant so they could have Mamma’s food whenever they wanted and not only when they came to visit at home.

We wanted to create a space that was inspiring, that fed body, mind and soul. My brother, Ryan and I were both in corporate and mom was doing some catering. Our original plan was a book shop with cakes and coffees and our interior designer at the time said to us, you are crazy, your talent is food, let’s put the bookstore on the walls and so Café del Sol became an inspiring eatery concept.

How involved are you in the restaurants today?

I’m involved full time, in the day to day running of operations, food experience, specials, events and marketing. Mamma looks after the people side of the business and meets and greets the clients. She is taking a step back as she has just become a Granny but when she is on site she does quality control and shares the Mamma love.

When did Cafe del Sol Classico open? 

12 years ago on 11 June 2007.

 In your opinion, how has Classico managed to remain as successful as ever in the Joburg restaurant industry?

We keep to our core of serving home-made homely modern Italian meals that are made with love. We use the best  and freshest ingredients only and constantly strive to a offer better, improved experience for clients. We have created beautiful spaces that people want to come back to and that paired with amazing food and great service from amazing people creates a winning concept.

If you had to describe Classico in three words, what would they be?

Homely, inspiring, delicious 

We’re sure you have a few, but what is your absolute favourite A) meal and B) dessert on Classico’s menu?

For meal, I’d say Gnocchi gorgonzola and for dessert definitely pavlova, which are both homemade from scratch on site.

Will you ever change up the menu?

We use our daily specials to introduce new dishes. Our regulars want us to keep our signatures on the menu and I have tried to change it up a few times and I am often met with vocal request to keep the guest favourites! So I introduce new items slowly and get real feedback before they make it onto the menu. We also like to play with plating and reinvent the look feel of our dishes and keep authentic flavours

How often do you refresh the decor or revamp?

We paint, do maintenance and refresh soft touches every year.

On your days off, where in Joburg do you enjoy hanging out and why?

The Walter Sisulu Botanical gardens to recharge my spirit or walk my dog because I like to take it easy


What’s your favourite kitchen gadget and why?

I recently received a slow cooker as a wedding gift so I am enjoying experimenting with it creating stews and soups

Tell us about some of your favourite cookbooks.

I enjoy the old school cooking and enjoy for South African inspiration and touches in dishes. I love Jamie Oliver as his personality is so captivating. I love Marco Pierre White and had the privilege of dining at Massimo Bottura in Mondena on my Honeymoon. So inspiring.

Share your top tips for aspiring female restauranteurs.

Be strong, be bold, be fair, be creative, be yourself everyone else is taken.


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