Sunday, January 13, 2008

Won over by Casanova

Whenever my family dines out on weekends, we tend to stick to restaurants that are either convenient (i.e. near our house) or familiar (i.e. tried and tested). When the 5 of us can't agree on where to eat, our usual fallback is UCC Connecticut, since it's both convenient and familiar. Unsurprisingly, our weekend dining is quickly becoming unadventurous and unexciting.

So when I found out it would only be me, Hanks and Pa having dinner together Saturday night, I took the opportunity to pick a restaurant none of us has been to (my mom's more reluctant to try new places). With the help of MunchPunch and Lori Baltazar's fabulous food blog Dessert Comes First, I found Gran Caffe Casanova, an Italian restaurant located in The Clubhouse
beside Corinthian Hills, along Temple Drive.

The place is quite small, with some tables practically inches away from one another, so if you plan on bringing a date, don't expect your intimate conservation to be kept private. If you're in a big group, they can seat you at a long table outside, if you don't mind dining al fresco. I had called ahead to reserve a table inside, and since there were only 3 of us, we had no problem squeezing into the most relatively secluded corner table by the drinks/coffee bar.

The service was quite efficient; our food was served promptly and at satisfactory temperatures. For a starter, we ordered the Involtini Vegetali Alle Due Salse, rolled grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini and carrots) with sundried tomato salsa and pesto. It was a yummy appetizer, but at P320 for 3 rolls, not much in the way of value for money. For our main course, we ordered 1 pizza and 3 pasta dishes. We requested that our pizza be split into 2 flavors, the Bascaioli (porcini mushrooms and ham) and the Casanova (arugula and Parma ham). We liked the former, but it was the Casanova we loved. Among our pasta selections, Pa's Aglio Olio Fettucine had the best flavor, but he wished it had something else in it to make it a "fuller" meal (perhaps shrimp would have done nicely). My Fettucine Salsicce had an excellent tomato sauce with generous helpings of delicious sausage, but very few porcini mushrooms. Also, the noodles were a bit overcooked (I like them soft, but not mushy). On the other hand, the guitar-string noodles in Hanks' Chitarra Salsa Veniziana were too al dente, and the onions and anchovies didn't bring much flavor to them. She ended up helping us finish our pastas instead, and had the rest of hers wrapped in a doggie bag, along with the leftover pizza. For dessert, Hanks and I tried a scoop of chocolate gelato, which I think might possibly be better than Pagliacci's. Pa had a latte, and it was so good he told us to order another to share. At P70 a cup, the latte outclassed any P100+ Starbucks drink.

I don't know if it was because we were in a relaxed mood, but despite some inconsistencies in the quality of the food, overall we enjoyed our dining experience at Gran Caffe Casanova. Next time I want to try their gnocchi or ravioli. They have a lot of items on the menu that look worth sampling, and
I'm sure Pa wouldn't mind a return visit. The only question now is whether or not Ma would be willing to give it a shot. :p

[more pix of our Casanova dinner here]


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