Restaurants in the Les Amis group never disappoint me, and Casa Verde (a joint venture between the good people at Les Amis and Buko Nero’s Oscar Pasinato) is just another great restaurant in their stable. Settled in the lush greenery of the Botanic Gardens, Casa Verde (meaning Green House in Italian) is a casual, laid back eatery serving a variety of pizzas, pastas and a handful of main courses. On a weekend, reservations are very much necessary as many families finishing up their day out in the sun stop by the restaurant to have dinner. The outdoor seating area is also pet friendly (although I most certainly am not), so it is not uncommon to find some expatriate families filling their tummies with their family pets sitting on the floor by their side.
Quite often when we visit Casa Verde we generally end up ordering the same dishes, including the Tagliatelle con Ragu alla Bolognese e Funghi Porcini and the Pizza Quattro Stagioni. The Tagliatelle is a simple, hearty pasta, with a meat sauce that is coarsely minced (almost as though by hand) in a simple tomato sauce. The pasta is always al dente, and the sauce, while simple, is always smokey and full of flavour.
On this trip, we decided to be a little bit more “adventurous” and stray a little from the tried and tested. First up, we had the Calamari Fritti, a staple starter on Italian menus. This was slightly above average, as the calamari was not particularly well seasoned and slightly bland on its own. What we did like was the tomato salsa that was fresh and accented with Italian parsley. The tomato dip that was provided to accompany the bread basket (complimentary, and a welcome addition) was also very much similar to the calamari sauce, and provided a nice clean taste on the palette.
As a change from our usual regime, we chose this time to have the Taglioni al nero de Seppia con Vongole Fresche, which was a fresh squid ink pasta in an olive oil / white wine sauce accompanied by clams. As always, the pasta was al dente and was delectable and soaked up the sauce that was delicately perfumed by the wine and the fresh clams. While some might say that this is not a difficult dish to put together (save for the making of the pasta), I think this was a very well-executed rendition of a classic vongole.
Because we had a birds’ eye view of the pizza chef on this occasion, we had the opportunity to observe him in action, and order our choice of pizza based on what looked good as we watched him prepare the pizzas. After about 10 minutes, we settled for the Pizza Frutti di Mare, or Seafood Pizza as the toppings of scallops, prawns and squid just looked too good to resist. This proved to be a good choice and was chockful of ingredients with virtually every mouthful filled with seafood of some kind (I kid you not)! The crust was slightly thicker than that available at Peperoni (also a Les Amis restaurant which will be reviewed soon-ish), but I liked that they used a very very generous helping of mozarella and tomato on the base. Because of the heavier use of cheese and tomato sauce, the base of the pizza was a touch wet, and while I did think it was perfect, I could perfectly understand why people might fancy it too wet.
Overall, I think the food at Casa Verde is very much worth the visit (and repeat visits). While I’ve read in the past that the service is something that ought to be improved, I must say that on my visits there, Peter and his team have been immaculate in their service, polite to a T, and attentive to our needs. This adds on to the good food that Casa Verde serves, and I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good pizza. One note of caution though, I understand that Casa Verde is run more like a self-service joint before 6 in the evening where one has to queue to order the food (although the food is delivered to your seat). This will probably put some people off, given the high(er) prices that they charge. I’ve never gone before 6pm, so have not had the opportunity to experience this myself, but for a trattoria style dinner, I think the prices at Casa Verde make the meal value for money when one takes into account the quality of the food. Do give this a visit if you’re craving for a good, thin-nish crust pizza!
1 Cluny Road
Visitor’s Centre, Botanic Gardens
Tel: +65 6467 7326