La Casa Ristorante, Russell Lea
Dining at La Casa is like feasting with the Sicilian family I never had. Honest food, generous servings, sumptuous meatballs, perfectly cooked pastas and delectable cannoli, which starts and finishes with a big hug from vivacious co-owner, Carm (whom I met via Twitter a few years ago).
The pics in this blog post are from a previous visit some time ago, as well as a recent re-visit (Carm unfortunately wasn’t at the restaurant this time but her brother Tony was a wonderful host, and she even called in to chat to us! Hope you are well Carm! xx).
As you’re about to see, we ate very well on both occasions! Restaurants like this makes me miss living in the Inner-West.
So when it comes to dining at La Casa, there is no other way to start
off the meal than to share the Polpette della Mamma (Original style meatballs served with wood fired bread, $15). These are prepared by Carm and Tony’s mama and in all seriousness, they’re the best I’ve ever had! Have a look at how clean we left the plate and you’ll understand just what I mean!
These good old fashioned hand-shaped meatballs are so delicate, they only just hold its shape. They’re coated in a thick tangy tomato passata, and of course, served with plentiful bread on the side so that every bit of sauce can be mopped up. It’s utterly delicious.
No longer on the menu, but absolutely worthy of a mention, is the 350g Wagyu scotch fillet, F1 grain fed marble score 9+ ($48) which is an amazing cut of meat served at an amazing low price. You can typically find that same cut for double the price at other steakhouses so without any hesitation, Zen and I decide it’s a must-have.
All steaks at La Casa are served with potato puree, sauteed spinach and a choice of sauce. We go for the most traditional – salmoriglio - a fragrant combination of extra virgin olive oil, lemon, parsley, oregano and garlic.
It’s such a cliche, but the steak just melts in my mouth!
We also share the gnocchi di patata con salsiccia, salvia, sugo di pomodoro e burro (gnocchi with sausage, sage in butter and red sauce, $22), because good gnocchi is hard to come by; plus we have the nsalata portualla (orange and fennel salad, $8), and the cannoli siciliani (tube shaped shells filled with ricotta, $8).
Then fast-forward a few months and I’m back with some friends. I wish it hadn’t been so long in between visits but it’s sometimes hard to find time to revisit restaurants when there’s so many new ones I haven’t tried.
We again, start with the meatballs… La Casa have really set the benchmark for meatballs!
The calamari fitti con rucola, aioli e balsamico (crispy fried calamari served with rocket, aioli and balsamic, $16) is a crowd pleaser as well. Each piece is coated by a well-seasoned batter that is amazingly light, crisp and golden. The slight sweetness of the balsamic, the richness of the aioli and the gentle bitterness of rocket all lift the flavours of the calamari.
I know how big the serving portions are at La Casa so for our main course, we share three dishes between the four of us.
There’s the San Daniele pizza ($22) which is tomato, mozzarella, baby rocket, prosciutto and shaved parmesan on a supple, rustic pizza base; and a full rack of ribs ($38).
The ribs are slathered with a salty-sweet glaze of La Casa’s special sauce. They’re so tender, we probably couldve pulled the bones apart without a knife. But the chef pre-cuts this for us before it even reaches the table, because they knew we were sharing. That’s the type of thoughtful service they have here.
The ribs include a side of ultra crunchy chunky fries.
And how can I not have the orange and fennel salad ($8) again? I just adore this salad. Beautifully cut orange segments, paired with the aromatic licorice/aniseed flavours of fine shavings of fennel…
There was a gnocchi-hater at the table (I won’t name names) so I made sure we also ordered the gnocchi.
Thankfully, he is now a convert because as expected, the pasta is flawless.
For dessert, we share the calzoncino alle mele (triangular calzone with apple, cinnamon and maple syrup served with ice cream, $18). The dough is impressively fluffy, crispy and dotted with blistering wood-fired bubbles. Encased within, is a treasure cove of diced granny smith apple dusted in cinnamon. Dessert calzones are so much awesomeness.
So… Who wants to come back with me next time?
La Casa Ristorante
271 Lyons Road, Russell Lea, NSW
Phone: (02) 9712 3882