Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King
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The Cafe for the Casanova

posted by in Italian, Restaurants

at Gran Caffe Casanova

My high school History teacher was named Ms. Casanova. My classmates and I never did find out what her first name was but she was quite unforgettable: she always wore her black hair in a tight ponytail; in my four years in high school, I never saw her with her hair down. She once even came to class with hair extensions. She was the snootiest of teachers and I was terrified of her really, but I had a begrudging respect for what she knew about History.

The Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) we all know however is that legendary Italian lover of whom all modern day Lotharios aspire to be. His memoirs detail his fascinating but dubious romps with 122 women, a number that in this day and age might actually be insignificant in some circles. Aside from his reputation as an erotic hero, Casanova was also a soldier, spy, diplomat, adventurer, and a prolific writer.

But he’s best known as the master romancer and it’s this fact that a café in Manila has named itself after him. Gran Caffè Casanova Ristorante Italiano or Caffè Casanova as I’ll be calling it here, is a two-month old testament to this great (!) Italian man. Now, don’t be thinking otherwise – this is a most honorable café. It has ‘Casanova’ in its name because it’s a most romantic idyll within the city. Located beside the new residential area called Corinthian Hills, the restaurant is part of the large commercial complex called The Clubhouse. Still a very new area still smelling of fresh concrete, there’s already a Starbucks there and a Rustan’s Supermarket soon to come.

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Caffè Casanova at night. Photo courtesy of Mark Anthony de Jesus

Caffè Casanova’s appeal lies in its al fresco dining – a tranquil environment surrounded by trees and open spaces. If you come at night, there’s a view of the metro’s skyline: Ortigas on one side and the hills of Antipolo on the other. It’s afforded these treasures because of its location along Temple Drive where it’s quiet, congestion is rare, and the air is still clean (by Metro Manila standards).

Any restaurant in Manila will soon die without air-conditioning, so Caffè Casanova has that too. While 80 can canoodle outside, its tiny dining room sits only 30. It’s pleasant and full of bright colors with a few Venetian masks (Casanova was born in Venice). The tables are quite small however prompting those with fuller figures to complain about the lack of leg room.

Owned by the same person responsible for I Dogi de Venezia at the 6750 in Ayala Avenue and La Capannina Ristorante in Boracay, Caffè Casanova serves Italian cuisine that stays true to its roots. Prepared with the gusto and passion that the Italians are known for, the food has its origins in Venice, Milan, and Rome.

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Photo courtesy of Mark Anthony de Jesus

Quattro Stagioni pizza
Quattro Stagioni pizza

Restaurant manager Mark Anthony de Jesus urges me to try the Involtini Vegetali Alle Due Salse (P320): grilled eggplants that have been rolled with bell pepper and zucchini and then misted with a sun-dried tomato sauce and served with pesto; or the other popular antipasti: cherry tomatoes stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella and rolled in parma ham (P320). But I already have my eye on the Quattro Stagioni (P420), four of their pizza assortments served as one. It’s a resultant mix of salami, mozzarella, seafood, tomato, and parma ham. It might actually be best for just two people to share this because if there are too many at the table, you won’t be able to try all the flavors — each slice is different from the one beside it.

Venetian pasta

I’m told that a lot of the pasta is freshly made in house. I adore fresh pasta for its toothsome, al dente character, a quality echoed in the Chitarra in Salsa Veneziana (P370), a typical Venetian pasta of “homemade guitar string-shaped noodles.” It’s very peppery and redolent of onions, although I hardly detect any anchovies . There’s also a gnocchi dish on the menu that I’m eager to try out next time.

truffle cream pasta

My cousin orders the Capelli D’Angelo Al Tartufo, Asparagini E Speck (P370), angel hair pasta with the haunting, lingering taste of truffle cream and parma ham. The few asparagus spears draped atop lend a casual elegance. Expressing concern that the pasta is a bit dry, she requests for some more of the cream sauce and is quickly given a fresh serving.

spaghetti bolognese

The two four year olds that I’m with nibble happily on the pizza that we order, although Boo murmurs repeatedly that she’d like noodles. Assuming she’d like nothing too exotic – she’s still a foodie-in-training after all – I order an Alla Bolognese (P320) for her, that traditional ground beef sauce. When it arrives, she proceeds to scrape off the parsley garnish (four year olds are averse to anything green) and enjoys her pasta dish thoroughly.

love that pizzaiolo hat
groovy toque

Caffè Casanova is such a cozy place that I feel like making it my own, never to tell anyone about it. As I eat, I watch the cooks behind the counter at the front – I’m especially enchanted by the man with the pizzaiolo, a charming red and white checkered headpiece, rolling out pizza dough. The cook beside him is busy slicing parma ham with a slick silver slicer.

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Photo courtesy of Mark Anthony de Jesus

For my next visit, Mark recommends the Pappardelle Nere Al Granchio (P390), homemade squid-ink pasta with crab meat in olive oil and white wine or the Trancio Di Tonno Con Peperoni E Mentuccia (P430), yellowfin tuna fillet sautéed in olive oil. I for one, am entranced by the enormous calzone that has just passed me by. I practically accost the waiter and ask to snap a quick photo before this wondrous breadstuff of indescribable appeal reaches its most lucky beneficiary.

calzone

Alas, there’s no room for dessert. (Horrors!) But I do have room for my favorite coffee drink, a latte (P70): one layer each of milk and espresso teeter precariously on a bed of froth. There’s a choice of either muscovado sugar or white. I choose the former and am rewarded with a creamy, utterly satisfying caramel sweetness. Delicioso!

latte

As with any new restaurant, have patience and an open mind when you come here – some menu items may not be available yet. But the staff seems to have their act down pat so there shouldn’t be too many hitches. Whatever you do, try to eat outside when you’re in the mood for an al fresco experience. It’s the best way after all, to channel the Casanova in you (or your companion).

THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.

Gran Caffe Casanova Ristorante Italiano
The Clubhouse
Corinthian Hills, Temple Drive
Quezon City, near White Plains
Open from 11 am – 12 midnight (Monday-Sunday)
(632) 638-2989 / 632- 7617

Acknowledgement:
Many thanks to Gran Caffe Casanova Ristorante Italiano‘s PR Manager, Mark Anthony de Jesus for his help.

15 Responses to “The Cafe for the Casanova”

  • YUUUUM. :) A bit pricey, but looks like the dishes are well worth it! :) Will put on special-occasions’ restaurants list. Heehee!

    On a side note, good luck on the baking demo, Lor! Sure you’ll be fabulous!

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  • I was wondering about this place, The Clubhouse. I saw that being built since it’s on our way to church. Last Sunday I spotted Starbucks but didn’t notic this cafe. Will definitely try it out.

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  • Gosh.. THEY ALL LOOK SO DAMN GOOD!! I’ll try it one time. thanks for the heads up Lori!!

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  • Oh, wow! Thanks for the tip! My hubby and I frequently drive by The Clubhouse, always wondering what else is there aside from Starbucks, but too lazy to park and find out. Thanks to you, now we know. Food looks delish!

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  • hahaha, i remember ms. casanova. she was really stern! and yep, never let her hair down! :D

    i’ve driven past that clubhouse a couple of times but i couldn’t make out if there was parking for non-villagers or not. is there or do you have to pass inside the village?

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  • That pizza looks a lot like the authentic Sicilian pizza they used to serve a pizzeria here where I live. Unfortunately, they recently closed down! :(

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  • Hi Lori! Actually, I saw you at Cafe Cassanova, (I was the lady behind you that came in as you were about to take a picture of the latte. I was with my folks…) and was just dyahe to say hi. I frequent your blog a lot, hence your familiar face.

    I agree with you – its a nice place and if only I could keep it a secret place to myself I would. I only got to take their seafood soup as I needed to be back at work but I would definitely come back, maybe with a handsome date (that would be my husband):D

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  • Ms. Cassanova’s name was Ramona… Btw what batch were u? Im batch 90. wonder if we were classmates. Love yer site
    Miri

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  • the food looks awesome. but was the Chitarra in Salsa Veneziana pasta a little overcooked? the pasta kinda looks a little mushy..

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  • Their quattro stagioni pizza is a must-try! The crust is perfectly thin chewy-crispy and the toppings juicy-cheesy-flavorful!

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  • This place is AWFUL. I don’t know if it’s under new management or whatever, but my friends and I recently dined there, and their food is so far down below par that it’s a disgrace that they’re calling themselves an Italian restaurant. We would have let the abysmal food slide had they tried to make it up with the service, but that did not happen at all. We had to request for the simplest of things like water, butter and utensils more than 4 times, and at one point we had to share our forks with one another because if not, the food would get cold. We had to wait almost an hour and a half between each course.

    I ordered salmon, and on their menu it said “salmon with cream sauce”. What a joke. Their cream sauce was mayonnaise!
    The whole dinner was an atrocity and a disaster. All in all, dining in this restaurant was one of the most unpleasant evenings I’ve ever had. I would not suggest eating in this place to anyone.

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  • This place is AWFUL. I don’t know if it’s under new management or whatever, but my friends and I recently dined there, and their food is so far down below par that it’s a disgrace that they’re calling themselves an Italian restaurant. We would have let the abysmal food slide had they tried to make it up with the service, but that did not happen at all. We had to request for the simplest of things like water, butter and utensils more than 4 times, and at one point we had to share our forks with one another because if not, the food would get cold. We had to wait ages between each course.
    I ordered salmon, and on their menu it said “salmon with cream sauce”. What a joke. Their cream sauce was mayonnaise!
    The whole dinner was an atrocity and a disaster. All in all, dining in this restaurant was one of the most unpleasant evenings I’ve ever had. I would not suggest eating in this place to anyone.

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  • The last time I went there I noticed that the food was different, they even crossed some of the drinks from the menu (there’s a particular drink that I like, the primary reason why I came back, but alas they’re no longer serving it). I found out that it was indeed under a new management, the original owners sold the place (no, I don’t have any idea why).

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  • Great write up, I will save this post in my Reddit account. Have a good evening.

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  • we ordered Quattro Stagioni pizza but it looks and tastes like a crust with cheese unlike the pizza in this blog that looks very tasty and yummy.

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