Saturday, 23 February 2013

Casa Italia, Stanley St, Liverpool

As regular readers may have noticed, I'm living back in Liverpool and keen to rediscover old favourites that I've forgotten about. With the advent of glitzy Z-list celeb haunts like San Carlo and its ilk along with the increase of faceless chains like N*ndo's, not to mention the seemingly constant regeneration of Liverpool city centre, it's hard to keep up with what restaurants have survived the double threat of recession and the opening of Liverpool One. Casa Italia is one old school eaterie that has survived and it's not difficult to see why. For years, it has had three main rivals in the rustic Italian genre- Buca di Bacco (now closed), Villa Romana (demise in food quality) and Franco's (massive price hike). Casa Italia is a survivor, a strong competitor on Liverpool's food scene. With word of mouth popularity, no flashy advertising and no need for special offers, Casa often has queues out the door and never has a problem filling up of a lunchtime despite the obvious absence of meal deals. I visited on a Monday at 6 and it was heaving. Full of Italian homeliness, the restaurant has all the essential ingredients like checked tablecloths, an open plan kitchen and the typical wall display of empty wine bottles. Casa has been a mainstay for around 40 years and was one of the original celebrity restaurants- back in the day, rumour has it that Cliff Richard was turned away as he wasn't dressed smartly enough!

To start, I had the Minestrone soup for £2.95. Like a meal in itself, it was full of celery, beans, pasta and was served with a huge hunk of rosemary foccaccia. Delicious.

My main course was my staple dish- penne Arrabbiata which came in around £7.50 (all pastas are between £7-8). Fiery and potent, it was the perfect winter warmer, a ray of sunshine in the freezing February temperatures. This picture doesn't do it enough justice as the portion was HUGE!

The two carnivores with me chowed down on Polpette, a Spaghetti and meatballs dish, and Amatriciana, a spicy bacon penne. Empty plates and full stomachs all round. Sadly, there was no room for dessert but I spied my favourite Cassata ice cream for £3.95 which I felt guilty saying no to! We settled for coffees- Irish, Americano and a Cappucino. The coffees were a bit pricy, £2.10 for an Americano but when the food and atmosphere was this good, it was a small price to pay.

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Hi Vindaloo Kings and Queens!