Posted by: mikeydude | June 17, 2009

Casanova Restaurant Cardiff Review (6/10)

This small italian pasta cafe is located in a side alley across the road from the Millenium stadium in Cardiff (just off St Mary’s street). Walked past it last week and couldn’t help but notice the excellent reviews that it had received stuck up on the window. Having just eaten at the pretty awful Pizza Express I decided that I needed to eat somewhere to restore the image of Italian Cooking!

So I came here for lunch on a Monday and immediately noticed the faintest smell of urine as I sat down near the entrance. Having a pub next door doesn’t bode well for your businesses front walls I’m afraid, but we then moved to a table further into the restaurant and it was fine.

The seats were nice and comfortable and the whole layout of the restaurant was neat with some nice paintings of venice all over the walls. However one point I just could not ignore were the numerous flies flying around the candle light hanging from the ceiling. For some weird reason none of those flies actually bothered us at all during the meal. They just kept buzzing around this ceiling light. Still… flies are flies…. and flies in a restaurant don’t mix.

In all honesty that’s about as negative as this place gets for this experience. We opted for the superb value £8.95 2 course lunch menu. Bread with olive oil was provided (standard white loaf from the market across the road I suspect), which was remarkably fresh. We chomped away at ours and the waiter was quick to refill generously!

Sarde al saor

My starter was a classic venetian starter of sardines marinated in sweet and sour onions served with toasted bread. Delicious! The fish wasn’t too fishy, and the accompanying onions (with raisins I think!) along with the toasted bread composed a really decent tasting dish. Good stuff. The portion was great for starter also. Nice and light.

Terrina

My wife went for the terrine. I know that these terrines are being served everywhere these days, and the reason I order them is to see which ones stand out from the crowd. This one did…. chunks of chicken and bacon which were succulent and full of taste held together and bound by a good poweful strong flavour. Yet not too much… most terrines I have eaten are too salty to eat on their own and require bread to go with it. This terrine could be eaten alone…. the whole lot. The balsamic vinegar sauce that accompanied also added depth to the whole dish. We had just eaten at Pizza Express the night before (mistake), and we had already agreed at this point that this place was far superior.

Right, onto the main courses.

The menu was slightly disappointing for the main courses and a majority of options were either made from minced meat (which we’re not fans of) or vegetarian. So I opted for the only “meat” dish there: Duck leg served with aubergine and tomato with roast potatoes. This was much better than I had anticipated. The duck skin was crisp and tasty, while the meat was slightly overcooked but still tender. The aubergine and tomato saute was deliciously sweet. It complimented the taste of duck extremely well. The roast potatoes were nice and crispy on the outside. I guess he must have used the duck fat to cook them =)

Anatra arrosto

The second main course was a vegetarian dish of Carnaroli rice cooked with peas and finished with parmesan olive oil. I wasn’t expecting much here… just a pea risotto, but the dish that came was refreshingly light. I think the peas suited the rice very well and cooked to near perfection i.e. soft but still with a bite! The subtle parmesan taste seemed to wrap the entire dish together. Delicate and not as heavy as a risotto… perfect for lunch.

Risi e bisi

Wow…. so pretty impressed with the food I must say. It’s so good to see Cardiff’s Italian population set up small restaurants like these. Apparently they do make their own pasta for some dishes and so that’s something to be admired also. The only other small pasta restaurant I can think of in Cardiff is la Minuet in one of the arcades across the castle. I used to be a massive fan through my student days… sadly though… quality and quantity has dropped over the years. So this little restaurant is my current fav for pasta.

We ended up paying approximately £24 excluding service and including drinks. Couldn’t really fault the food… the rating has only been let down by the flies and odours of that particular area. It’s hardly surprising as the road is just off St Mary’s Street; Cardiff’s clubbing capital. I will definitely be returning, but probably in Winter when flies and odours aren’t so pronounced 😀

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Responses

  1. I think your next stop should be an Indian, particularly, Mint and Mustard (Whitchurch Road). It is simply divine.

    • Hah Gwen… Funny you should say that… Cos I went there 2 nights ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact I’m halfway through writing the review at the mo. I genuinely believe it’s a restaurant we can boast about 🙂 Btw thanks anyway for the tip :p


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