Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review: La Casa Ristorante, Russell Lea

 You always know that you're in for a good meal when a foodie chooses a restaurant for her birthday, and so it was going to the newly opened La Casa Ristorante in Russell Lea. La Casa is something that I have looked for quite some time in Sydney, a truly excellent Italian homestyle restaurant. This is a bit sad when you consider that I used to live in the Italian Forum and did not find any such thing there.

Brought to you by the brother sister Ruggeri team La Casa brings heart, soul, fresh ingredients and friendly faces to their restaurant which is already teaming with eager diners and reviewers only a short time after opening.

We went with a large group for a birthday dinner and they were still able to accomodate wonderfully and stayed up beat and pleasant the whole way. We had a banquet including wine for a very reasonable price but as this is not listed on the menu I am not certain if this was a special for our group and so will list the al a carte prices.

Luccarelli Negroamaro alla Toscana $22 ($6 by the glass)

For a moderately priced wine this is not a bad drop and goes excellently with the pasta and antipasto.

I felt strongly for the staff as we were... not shy in lapping up the wine and the sound raised to meet the drinking levels.

Pizza all'oglio (Garlic Pizza) $9

A great light starter on an excellent bread base, not to oily or filling.

Antipasto di casa per due persone con salumi, arrosto di verdure e formaggi $18

A fantastic antipasto plate including light soft prosciutto, fresh roasted vegetables and delightful home made salami. Ask for a small bowl for the olive pits though as they're very morish and one was not provided.

Polpette della Mamma $14

I have quite the weakness for a good mediterranean meatball having grown up in a Spanish family with a well guarded albondigas recipe. This dish is every childhood memory of grandma's cooking reaching out to the nostalgia centre of your brain and stroking it lovingly. The secret is multiple kinds of meat and a fresh tomato sauce that glistens with good quality oil. Served up with a fresh heavy slice of sour dough bread to chase the last morsels of sauce around the plate... and let me tell you we all did. I will be returning to La Casa for this dish if nothing else.

Fettucine con gamberi, aglio, olio, spinaci i pomodori $22

If you're going to order this make sure your date tries some as it's simply dripping in garlic. I would have liked a little more bite to the chilli but this is an excellent rendition of a classic fresh pasta with perfect al dente noodles.

Pappardelle con pancetta e fungi, vino bianco e crema

Mushrooms and cream aren't really my kind of food so I limited my trying of this dish, and you can tell I didn't take this picture! Still if you're a mushroom fan this would have been an excellent dish and the pappardelle were soft and luscious.

Penne alla Norma $16

This was definitely one of the table favourites! The sauce was thick and sweet studded with eggplant and olives and topped with the most amazing smooth ricotta I've ever enountered. A definite 'must order' and a great option for the vegetarians.

The food was already warming and fantastic but then we started onto the pizza, oh god the pizza! This is without a doubt the best pizza I've had in Sydney.

Diavola $17

OMG I WANT ANOTHER SLICE OF THIS PIZZA. The perfect base, the perfect amount of fresh tomato sauce, just the right mix of cheeses and the most amazing home made chilli pepperoni. The simplest pleasures are some times the best and by god this is a pizza to remember.

Bresaola $19

I'm very impartial to rocket on pizza and combined with the shaved parmesan and soft cold meats on another crisp but soft base, just excellent.

There were more pizzas and plenty of salad but by this time I was stuck into tales of new restaurants and food television with some of the other dinner goers so apologies.

Cannoli Siciliani $8

Sweet ricotta filled canoli are definitely up there as one of my favourite foods in the world, however I've been inundated with excellent Five Dock Canoli after years of running a small business with an Italian business partner, so I skipped these. If they're using the same ricotta as for the pasta though I would definitely order as it was amazing.

Birthday Tiramisu $9.50

Birthday dessert! I like cake but tiramisu is hard to beat and this came very recommended.

Affogato con liquore $14

Amazing sweet nut studded hazelnut gelato with Disaronno almond liqueur and excellent Italian espresso. I was so happy with this order I danced in my place; the ice cream and coffee were the perfect quality and just the right balance of tart and sweet.

All in all I must say that I cannot fault a damn thing about this restaurant. The quality of ingredients, the love and passion going into the food and the friendliness of the crew were absolutely paramount and highly recommended. The fact that this restaurant is so popular so quickly is no surprise to me and my advice is try and get in before the whole city discovers it.

La Casa Ristorante
@_LaCasa on Twitter

271 Lyons Road
Russell Lea
(located between Five Dock & Drummoyne)
Phone 9712 3882

Open Tuesday - Sunday for dinner from 5pm

Casual traditional atmosphere in a warm but modern setting
Licensed but family friendly

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