Do you recall the scene in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp when the canine couple set up behind an authentic Italian restaurant for a romantic feast of their own?
That’s exactly what Casa Grande reminds me of.
There are red-and-white table cloths and white candles melting down the sides of old Chianti bottles. I wouldn’t be surprised if an accordion player made the rounds some evenings. In the meantime, Luciano Pavarotti serenades diners over the stereo system.
We have been dining at Casa Grande for decades (they’ve been in business for over 35 years) and every time I visit, the place is packed. Yet it isn’t one of those restaurants you hear or see a lot about. On this early weeknight, we got the last table in the little main floor area. (There have been times we’ve dined on the second floor, but it’s usually only open on weekends.)
Everyone surrounding us were regulars and one of the servers was hugging and kissing patrons upon their arrivals and departures.
My husband and I sometimes have a difficult time deciding what to order at a place like Casa Grande, which is well-known for its generous portions. We consider pasta a special treat and are concerned about filling up with too much of it. But the perfect solution was found in their largest dinner salad and an order of spaghetti with seafood, which we shared.
La Giardiniera Salad is chock full of romaine tossed with onions, tomatoes, green pepper, olives, cucumber, grated mozzarella cheese and house dressing. Thin slices of mild capicollo (a cross between salami and ham) adorn the top. We were thrilled when more slices arrived at the table with a fine dry salami, more olives and spicy marinated eggplant. This little plate was the antipasto which comes with each pasta.
When high quality seafood is simply and quickly sautéed, we prefer not to let an overpowering pasta sauce interfere with the delicate taste. Casa Grande lets you choose the preparation style and I almost always opt for oil and garlic. On this night, the kitchen was generous with the garlic, so my husband and I were glad that we had shared the dish.
If you’re going, I would recommend you make reservations, as you will not want to miss out on this authentic treat.
Kathryne Grisim’s foodmusings.ca blog was named best local blog in Uptown Magazine’s Best of Winnipeg readers’ poll.