Angie and I have been planning to meet up since before Christmas. Three months later we finally managed to catch up over dinner at La Casa Ristorante with Simon and Bel.
La Casa is a suburban Italian restaurant in the, new to me, suburb of Russell Lea. Front of house is run by the larger than life Carmel, while her brother Tony is in the kitchen. Carmel stopped by our table a few times during the evening and it was great to learn a little about the philosophy behind the menu and some of the restaurant's suppliers.
Our shared starter of polpette della mamma (mamma's meatballs) was my highlight of the night. The incredibly tender meatballs had a sharpness from the pecorino cheese and added depth from the rich tomato sauce. Carmel was quite relaxed in telling us the recipe "no one can make them the same as we do even if they know the recipe". I think I believe her.
I loved the wood fired oven that was consistently churning out pizzas during the evening. It would be awesome to bake one of my sourdough loaves in there to see how it alters the flavour. The dough in our bufala pizza took five days to make (as it does for all their pizzas). It had a tasty thin crust, although the cheese hadn't melted as we hoped.
For the main course, Simon and I both chose the Linguine con gamberi e granchio. The linguine with prawn and crab, unfortunately came with no crab. A quick word with Carmel and it was swiftly re-made. Once the crab was added the dish really came alive. The prawns were sweet and the crab, tomato and lemon sauce was a treat. For me it had the perfect amount of chilli for a little bit of tingle on the lips, although I think Simon would have liked more chilli.
We went desert crazy with ordering a cannoli, tiramisu and affogato to share. My favourite was the cannoli which had a moorish sweet vanilla ricotta filling.
I really enjoyed our dinner at La Casa. It strikes me as an excellent family restaurant run by friendly hosts working hard to please their locals. The servings were very generous, definitely representing value for money.
Simon's review of the night is here.
Polpette della Mamma ($15)
Mamma's meat balls
Bufala pizza ($20)
Risotto alle alghe marine e scamp ($25)
Seaweed risotto with scampi
Linguine con gamberi e granchio ($23)
Linguine with prawns, crab, diced tomatoes, garlic, oil & chilli
Filetto di Salmone con riso venere ($29)
Atlantic salmon on a bed of parsnip puree & venere black rice
La Casa Ristorante
271 Lyons Road,