Dave and I were invited by Andrew Grundling of High5s Connect to review Casa Bella. This Italian franchise is located at The Sanctuary shopping centre in Somerset West. Casa Bella has been open for two and a half years and all their pizzas and pastas are made on site. The competition in this arena in our area is fierce and the stand out point with Casa Bella is their amazing wine cellar.
Service and wine
The wine list itself is fantastic, with the wines having been hand selected by Pieter, the owner. But, the highlight is the cellar which has off menu wines. I would suggest that you ask your waiter if you can be shown around as there are some gems worth trying. We chose a bottle of Guardian Peak Merlot 2018 (R184) off the wine list as we only went into the cellar after our starters. K-C was our waiter for the evening. The title of head waiter seems well deserved as his service was excellent. As soon as we sat down we were offered our choice of still or sparkling water. The evening’s specials were given to us and then we were left to read the menu.
K-C brought our sparkling water to the table, together with a platter of garlic, chilli and cheese. We made our way through this with the pizza bites that we snacked on while reading menu. When the chilli and cheese were empty a new platter was brought to the table.
Dave and I always share our starters when eating Italian. We decided on the flash-fried calamari tubes and heads (R89) which are served with the tastiest zucchini fries. The calamari was excellent and came with a bowl of punchy garlic in oil. Our opinion of the Caprese Italian pizza bread (R95) was divided. Dave thought it was good and suggested I order this pizza the next time we have our monthly pizza lunch. I thought that the base was too soggy in the areas the cheese was placed. However, we both agreed that the cheese was not great. I am not sure if it was buffalo mozzarella, as it had a different texture to what I am used to when the mozzarella is cooked.
Our main course and dessert
Dave had his usual penne arrabbiata (R89) and whereas the sauce was great with a decent punch of chilli, the pasta was stodgy. I think perhaps the dough was not worked enough before going through the extruder. But, upon discussion with Pieter he mentioned that they do not salt the water and this too could be the reason. I had the lasagne bolognese (R125) which was excellent. The portion is a generous 600g and I asked for a take home container as there was nearly half of the serving left.
The tiramisu (R60) however was a letdown . It had not set up properly which they were aware of and should rather not have served it. The sponge fingers needed to be soaked more in the coffee liqueur as I could not taste it and the grated chocolate was nowhere to be seen.
Overall, our impression was good and if you are in the mood for some decent wine with an Italian meal then make a booking. Contact Casa Bella on 021 492 3880.
Disclosure: Dave and I were invited to review the restaurant and the meal was on the house. We left a tip for the waiter as is our norm. This post is in line with my blogging policy.