Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Casa Sasso - Now That's Italian

I love Italian food- the more authentic, the better. Casa Sasso, Kelowna's newest Italian restaurant, serves up great Italian cuisine from the Rome and Naples regions.  Quoting my friend Neil (see below, second visit): "Casa Sasso offers great food, at reasonable prices- perfect!"

Casa Sasso
The atmosphere is warm, the decor inviting, with a Mediterranean "feel": white tables and chairs, light blue walls, a well stocked bar, a comfortable waiting area... it's bright, crisp and clean.

Crispy chips with Parmesan cheese
 and herbs
On my first visit, Beryl and I ordered new dishes and old favourites. The first to arrive at our table was a basket of freshly fried potato chips, garnished with herbs and parmesan cheese.  It sure beats the boring bread basket you usually get to nibble on!  Then came the Spinaci al burro e parmigiano con mozzarella (Spinach with butter, parmesan and mozzarella),  Sauteed buttered spinach and mozzarella cheese, garnished with parmesan cheese. Delicious, bright and light!  The soup of the day was a creamy minestrone, not the usual tomato based variety expected in most Italian restaurants.  I found the portion small, but the flavours were "big".

Spinaci al burro-
a great appetizer.
The main courses were prepared in the traditional Italian way: Beryl's main course was the pasta of the day: rotini with a cream sauce.  We expected pasta in lots of creamy sauce, à la North American.  The pasta arrived al dente, sauced à la Italian, meaning with restraint. The pasta was the star of this dish, and the sauce added the flavour, all topped with grated fresh parmesan.  I ordered eggplant parmesan, expecting breaded eggplant, generously served in tomato sauce and topped with lots of melted cheese.  You know, the usual dish.  What was served was much lighter, no breading or "gobs" of cheese and sauce.  The eggplant was rich and  luscious, full of deep tomato flavours and topped with grated fresh parmesan.  It was served with pureed potatoes.  I loved the eggplant, but next time, I'd request pasta instead of the potatoes.

There were seven of us on my second visit.  Lots of opportunities to order a greater variety of dishes and they did not disappoint.  We ordered  a tasting plate of antipasto.  It was a hit!  Four varieties of bruschetta: eggplant caponata in a rich sweet and sour tomato sauce; sweet peppers with herbs, capers, olives and garlic; creamy blue cheese and walnuts; and lastly, the more familiar tomato and basil.  All of them delicious! There were also carbonara muffins, pasta and creamy carbonara with pancetta cooked in a muffin tin- just like Gabriella's mom made at home.  The sixth piece was the suppli at telefono- a risotto croquette stuffed with mozzarella cheese, breaded and fried.  A traditional Italian appie well worth sampling.  "Al telefono" refers to the melted cheese string that appears when you take your first bite.

Everyone ordered pasta as their main course: Carbonara, puttanesca and the pasta of the day, shrimp and zucchini.  We all loved our dish, and our neighbours', as we shared forkfulls around the table.  Did anyone miss the extra ladles of sauce normally served à la North America?  Not one bit, or is that bite?

Gabriella Sasso
I recommend you save room for dessert.  Two forks (to share with your dinner partner) and either tiramisu or torta caprese (a chocolate flourless cake).  No leftovers at this table!

Chef/owner, Gabriella Sasso prepares all her dishes to order, just the way she enjoyed them in Rome and Naples.  Well worth waiting a few extra minutes.  The prices are reasonable, pasta dishes range from $9 to $11 and meat dishes $14.  Vegetarian and gluten free dishes are readily available.

Casa Sasso is located at 426A Bernard Ave, between Pandosy and Ellis.


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