271 Lyons Road, Russell Lea NSW 2046
Sicilian hospitality with a smile
Thanks to Angie for organising a catch up dinner at La Casa Ristorante with Richard and Bel. Upon arrival I was greeted by Carmel Ruggeri who I'd previously met at a Media 140 event. She'd prewarned me on twitter 'I save my cement mix for the special people who comment on my aioli' after I commented on the 'interesting' aioli presentation I saw on the Jenius review. Thankfully we didn't order the calamari this time as I wasn't up for a swim. The Our Mamma’s original style meatballs ($15) was recommended as a house speciality and indeed they had good flavour and were moist as hoped. Mamma sure knows how to make a good meatball. It was served with wood fired bread which was fresh and soft although I was somehow expecting it to be a bit more crusty. We also shared a simple Bufala pizza ($20) of tomato, buffalo mozzarella & basil. The dough was particularly light and tasty being a 5 day dough making it also very digestible. The cheese wasn't as stringy as I was expecting and a few more basil leaves would have been appreciated to allow each slice to get one. Chilli oil was provided on the side for extra flavour kick. Next time I'd love to try their Garlic pizza ($9) which I spotted smelling so good from the kitchen.
For mains my Linguine with prawns, crab, diced tomatoes, garlic, oil & chilli ($23) unfortunately first arrived without the crab which Richard and I questioned about half way through our dishes. Carmel checked and confirmed the important ingredient was accidently missing and kindly prepared another one for us after she knuckle busted the chef for forgetting it — seriously, these guys are food bloggers we're serving, you can't stuff this sh*t up — I believe she possibly uttered to the chef, possibly not. Having the crab made the dish so much better along with the decent sized prawns. I like how the sauce wasn't too oily and I would have been happy with even more garlic and chilli in the dish for some extra depth of flavour. The Carnaroli rice with seaweed & grilled freshwater scampi ($25) had a decent sized scampi with the bonus of a prawn and mussel and the seaweed crunch and flavour worked well in the risotto. Both the Atlantic Salmon ($29) and Wagyu Beef Cheeks ($36) looked good and I believe were well-liked.
For dessert Carmel kindly gave us some Cannoli Siciliani ($11, compliments of the kitchen) to try which were home made filled with ricotta. They were pretty big in size and I was hoping for some candied fruit in the mix like I've had at Bacco Pasticceria but apparently the locals aren't so keen on that version which is a shame. The Tiramisu ($13) was served in a glass and I enjoyed the flavours and noticeable alcohol. I personally tend to prefer tiramisu when it's cut from a larger cake and presented on a plate for some reason — I'm weird, I know. The Affogato con liquore ($14) was served with hazelnut gelato from Pure Gelato and amaretto. Great to see a decent amount of gelato used and coffee was pretty smooth. It's a restaurant I look forward to returning to try other dishes on the menu. As a bonus treat Angie made Salted Caramel and Jaffa macarons for everyone plus Richard shared his homemade sourdough bread achievement — Le Très Bon.
PROS: Buzzing atmosphere, Family friendly service, Lots of seating including outdoors and upstairs, Prices seem reasonable for the quality and taste, Decent sized portions, Cosy decor, Plenty of street parking
CONS: Didn't order the garlic pizza, Bufala pizza could do with more basil leaves so each slice gets one, I wanted the candied fruit in the cannoli, No BYO
WORTH TRYING: Meatballs, Linguine with prawns & crab
NEXT TIME: Garlic pizza, Garlic prawns, Ribs, Crispy fried calamari if I dare
Aperol Sunrise: Aperol, Cointreau, Prosecco, Orange ($12) — no shortage of alcohol in this one to kick start the night
Our Mamma’s original style meatballs served with wood fired bread ($15)
WORTH TRYING :-)
Bufala: Tomato, buffalo mozzarella & basil ($20)
Chilli oil for an extra kick
Garlic pizza ($9) — we didn't order but I'm definitely trying next time
Atlantic Salmon on a bed of parsnip puree & venere black rice ($29)
Wagyu Beef Cheeks slow cooked in red wine jus with spinach & potato puree ($36)
Cannoli Siciliani: Home made tube shaped shells filled with ricotta ($11, compliments of the kitchen)
Affogato con liquore: Affogato with hazelnut gelato, liquor & espresso coffee ($14)
Limoncello hospitality drink
Tony & Carmel Ruggeri
La Casa car
Interesting rustic wash basin although I reckon a shelf for the toilet rolls might be a worthy addition perhaps
Table supports not too bad for foot room but could still be better position for my preference