For once I’m straying from my favourite Italian, because I’ve heard good things about the Casa Italia. I think I’m the only student who sees pasta as a monthly treat rather than a daily staple (not because of carbs, I’m just really impatient so it always comes out crunchy).
‘The Casa’s where business people sit next to bikers, next to scallies, next to families, next to loved-up couples. It’s for birthdays and celebrations, it’s for every day and special days…the Casa is life in all its forms coming together to laugh, eat, drink, kiss and tell.’
Opposite the zazz of the Metquarter and Eleanore Rigby (she’s sad cos she’s hungry), this long-established place feels authentic amongst shops and restaurants of varying degrees of snootiness with its traditional interior and cozy, welcoming atmosphere. As luck would would have it, we’ve ended up with a window seat and can watch Eleanore picking fights with tourists (‘Soz ’bout what I said when I was hungry, girl.’)
There’s no need for a reservation, but don’t be mistaken – for a Wednesday night, this place is packed. I’d expected a quiet, romantic little Italian so am taken aback by the bustle and noise. There’s everybody from birthday parties to couples to friends having a catchup, all in such good spirits you can hardly hear yourself think.
The menu offers a huge selection of pastas, and I go for the mushroom, ham and cream tagliatelle. My pal has the Tortellini Italiana – oven baked meat filled pasta with bolognese, béchamel and mozzarella. We share home made Foccacia Toscana i.e. a thin crispy garlic bread spread with home-made garlic butter, which is delicious with some robbed bolognase smeared on top. They offer pizza but most diners seem to go for pasta, especially the oven baked option.
Granddaddy of the family Cavaliere Mario Campolucci-Bordi (phew) was granted a Knighthood by the Italian republic for his services towards the catering industry and is still involved to this day, and his love of Italian food is reflected by his whole family who run this place.
Service is slow at times, but they make up for it where it counts – food is served quickly, portions are generous, tasty and reasonably priced. Staff are cheerful, though there is perhaps sometimes a lack of attention – it’s the kind of place you have to make yourself known. I’ll definitely be coming back after an afternoon’s last minute Christmas shopping, waving the toilet golf sets and bars of Marmite chocolate.