CASA NOSTRA --- THE DELIGHTFUL “NEW KID ON THE BLOCK”
FOOD - October 5, 2011
Written by Ray Kada
In Italian, Casa Nostra means “our house,” not to be confused by “Cosa Nostra, which means “our thing,” a name commonly used to described the Mafia. But long experienced hotelier and restaurateur Joe Velardi, recently opened Casa Nostra, a cool and comfortable Italian eatery on Pasong Tamo Extension in Makati, which will amaze your palate with authentic dishes from all over Italy.
Casa Nostra offers meals full of Italian hospitality-with great service, delicious food and a good selection of various wines from around the world, all in an old world charm and cozy environment.
Casa Nostra has yet to win any awards since it’s the newest Italian restaurant in Manila. But rest assured, awards will be forthcoming in the near future. You surely will be hearing more of this “off the beaten path” restaurant in due course. But why wait? Try it for yourself and see what’s going on! Seriously, I’m ready to stake my reputation as a self-proclaimed foodie on this place. I’ve eaten at the best Italian restaurants here in Manila and various others outside the city limits. This is one of the best in Metro Manila. Yeah, yeah, yeah…..I know you’ve eaten in the all the other Italian restaurants as well, but until you’ve tried Casa Nostra you haven’t really experienced real Italian food in an authentic Italian atmosphere.
Bottom Line: This is one of the best Italian restaurants in which I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining. Your eyes will open wide when you’re served huge portions of in-house made pastas (big enough for take home leftovers) as the many fiercely loyal customers have already found out.
This small Pasong Tamo eatery houses a dozen highly-prized tables, overrun by small families, clusters of friends and boomer couples. Framed in an old world décor, plus authentic Italian music, helps complete the Italian feel, but the food is still the main attraction here.
Menu choices include a dozen “not your run of the mill” pastas, including the unusal panizza, along with their signature Ossobuco Gremolata, poultry and meat (lamb, filet) options. You’ll discover that seafood creeps into various pasta dishes. The menu boasts appetizers like Carpaccio di Manzo (Sliced raw beef), Costata d’ Agnello Piccanti (lamb chops in a spicy herbed tomato and balsamico sauce) and salads, while also bolstering numerous stand-alone favorites. One pasta dish Anatra di Ripieno (half-moon raviolis filled with duck in truffle cream sauce) will leave you in awe. Another winner is the Cioppino (Italian shellfish in a fish stew with a winey tomato based broth) which is great for dipping those home-made breads.
What it lacks in square meters, Casa Nostra makes up in spirit. It showers first-time guests and repeat customers alike with a magnificent array of Italian delights prepared by the Executive Chef Ven San Juan, a master in the kitchen and its mente direttiva Joe Velardi, who brought Casa Nostra from San Francisco, California to Manila.
Each visit begins with a basket of freshly baked bread sticks, crusty baguettes, soft pretzels and three individual saucers of bread dips such as extra virgin, nutty olive oil with grated Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar, smooth chicken-liver pâté, and a salsa Pomodoro. But don’t stuff yourself with these breads! Save room for what’s to come next!
After gorging on the appetizers, the homemade breads and the main course, we couldn’t bear leaving without having a dessert. If one is good, then two must be better, so we ordered two desserts… the Tiramisu, rich and creamy, loaded with coffee liqueur and a Panna Cotta (Italian cooked cream eggless custard.) An after-dinner drink of chilled Limoncello was a fitting top off for the meal.
Cioppino Seafood Stew