Casa Grande Pizzeria
Neighbourhood: West End
Address: 984 Sargent Ave
All senses are engaged as the red-and-white checkered curtain rises on a dining experience at Casa Grande Pizzeria. This bustling restaurant has been three decades in the making and is cinematic in its reproduction of a Lady-and-the-Tramp-style dining atmosphere. Tony Grande’s business is booming, and in the Italian tradition, still all in the family.
Every classic touch is present here, like the tabletop Chianti bottles encased in a volcanic downpour of wax. The soft light creates ideal date ambiance, while kid-friendly menu items and affordable prices attract families and large groups in droves.
When it comes to the meal, portions are generous and arrive with salad and a well-stacked side of signature garlic toast.
Antipasti shakes up the palate with complementing tastes of meats, cheeses and marinated vegetables. The contrasting textures are also intriguing, and range from dense strands of chile-flecked spicy eggplant to the subtle flavour of a delicate capocollo ham.
The easily shared fried mushrooms are a Grande example of why straight-forward flavour wins with its simplicity. A mound of earthy buttons gleams in a garlicky sauce and is awakened with a refreshing spritz of lemon juice.
A tower of white pizza boxes behind the front counter hints at what makes Casa Grande famous. These stone-baked pies are freshly made to order (topped with heaping handfuls of cheese), and are a surefire crowd pleaser with a selection of eight varieties along with many build-your-own options.
Piping-hot pasta entrées are doused in a variety of classic sauces and the baked pasta dishes, like beef cannelloni, ooze cheese, rich sauce and the essence of comfort food. The fettuccine al’paesana is similar to a puttanesca. Olives, anchovies, and capers mingle in a garlic and oil sauce over the pasta. This mixture of flavours works to create a bold, tangy dish that is a satisfying departure from the menu’s mostly tomato and cream sauces.
Entrée selections showcase veal, and it’s evident this is a specialty. The Villa Grande is a staple. A large veal cutlet bursts with ham and mozzarella. The meat’s breading provides a mighty crunch that reveals the dish’s melted savoury stuffing.
A bowl of spumone ice cream is a traditional way to cap off the Casa Grande experience. After the exceptional service and plentiful portions you’ll leave feeling full and loved, as though you had spent the evening at the Grande’s own table.