You would class Casa Dino as ‘fine dining’ – the highest quality food, elegant layout with gleaming glasses and snow white table cloths, attentive staff – but in another sense it’s just like joining an Italian family for a meal. Everything is home-made from scratch daily, from the Rosemary bread with olive oil and white truffle vinegar (sweeter and more interesting than Balsamic) to the ice cream, and the menu is simple – you don’t need a gastronomic lexicon to work out what things are.
It is actually run by a family. Dino has worked in restaurants for more than 25 years. Originally from Trieste, the coffee capital of Italy, his father Giovanni ran a restaurant there and his grandfather before him ran a wine cellar, so hospitality is in his blood. Dino worked for many years for the famous Mandarin restaurant Mr Chow in Knightsbridge, latterly as Maitre’d, where he met Alfonso, who now manages Casa Dino for him. They opened in Devonshire Rd last September. Dino’s wife Bea was behind the bar when we went and his daughter Rita (currently studying economics at university) was also helping out.
Photographs above: Owner – Dino; Casa Dino cocktails;
The cocktail menu is a selection of their favourites. Of special note, the Chiswick Lady: strawberry and raspberry puree rose liqueur, elderflower liqueur and a touch of Imperial Gold vodka, topped with Champagne.
I went with two friends. We had Avocado salad, Sicilian Arancini (Italian rice balls) and Lime and chilli prawns to start, all delicious. For the main course we chose Sundried Tomato Ravioli with mozzarella and home made pesto sauce, Pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil and Veal Scalopini served with pilaf rice. The veal is new for the summer, having been swapped for the Veal Ossobuco winter dish. It came with a delicious gravy in which butter, lemon and wine were apparent. A choice of six starters, six pastas, four meat and two fish main courses is about right for me. It concentrates the mind nicely. Interestingly the ‘signature dish’ Tonnarelli ‘caccio & Peppe’, literally just pasta with cheese and pepper, could not be simpler, which shows the confidence the award winning Sicilian Chef has in his pasta.
We chose a bottle of Verdicchio white wine, also new for the summer. The majority of their wines are Italian, though they have some French and the occasional Argentinian, Spanish and New Zealand wine. Alfonso, who is Portuguese, introduced us to the most delicious dessert wine, a Reciotto della Valpolicello, which though red, is served cold and tastes sweet and syrupy, like a Madeira or a Muscat, but not sickly sweet, just rich and flavoursome. For dessert we chose Mango & Passion Fruit Mousse, Hazelnut Semifreddo and chocolate ice-cream. Of course we all sampled everything. They were all delicious but I think the Mango & Passion Fruit Mousse won out.
Definitely to be recommended. Don’t forget to take your Club Card for a hefty discount.