Monday, April 1, 2013

Cantina della Casa | James Ridenour

One of the great things about Melbourne is that you don?t have to pay a fortune to eat well. ?Enter Cantina della Casa, open only two weeks this cafe/bar is already one of my absolute favourites. ?The cantina is the newest brainchild from the same people who brought you Bar Lourinha in Lt Collins Street (one of my favourite wine bars for great food, wine and service) and the restaurant?Casa Ciuccio (located next door to the cantina).

The cantina (which can be loosely translated as ?refreshment room?) is amiable from the word go. ?Super friendly staff, lots of choices for food and drink, indoor/outdoor seating and a ?modern decor with a whimsical latin influence, all situated on one of the hottest culinary streets in Melbourne; Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.

The menu comprises of beautiful salads (you can have your choice of three salads for a very reasonable $11), empanadas (pastry with filling), artisan sandwiches and home-made sweets to finish. ?Of course there are several libations to enjoy along with the excellent food.

On my first visit I had my choice of three incredibly beautiful salads comprising of tomato ricotta and basil, a chickpea and s?lish salad and a couscous cashew and parley combination. ?The staff mentioned that there are always several vegetarian options on offer so no worries for carnivore/vego groups of friends. ? The salads impressed me so much I returned the next day to sample a divine goat empanadas with aioli and the tomato salad as an encore. ?If you haven?t tried goat it is a wonderful meat extensively used in Caribbean and Latin cuisines. ?It is beautiful and well worth a try. ? The empanadas did not disappoint with flakey pastry and a rich meaty filling, perfect with the aioli.

This cantina can be easily tried without maxing out your credit card. ?It?s a perfect place to head out with friends for something to eat, some great wine or a few drinks. ?I know I will be back again and I am also certain I will be trying Casa Ciuccio?which is the cantina?s sister restaurant located next door.

Cantina della Casa is open Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm and weekends from 10am to 5pm. ? The cantina is located at 13 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy and can be contacted on ?03 9090 7870 or on Twitter @Casa Ciuccio.

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