Back in June, when I attended the Italy Here festival in Sofia, I came across a booth for the Italian restaurant called La Piccola Casa. I was looking at their business card and the logo was really familiar. I hadn’t eaten there before but I was sure that I had seen this place. Well when I turned over the card and saw the address and it all came together. The restaurant is right around the corner from my house. I pass it almost every day.
I knew that there was a restaurant on the intersection of Boulevard Tzar Boris III and Boulevard Prof. Ivan Geshov. Angel and I had been there before many years ago with the girls and it was crap food and even worse service, so we didn’t return. Apparently, the old restaurant closed and a “real” Italian place opened in its stead.
I was excited at the possibility that an authentic Italian restaurant was within walking distance from my apartment, so Angel and I decided to check it out.
The interior of the restaurant was pretty much exactly the same as the old place, comfortable and shabby (kind of) chic with proper white table clothes and red cloth napkins, bamboo wall covering hiding imperfections, white washed wooden benches covered with black and red pillows (not visible in the photo).
I happened to be starving when we sat down, so my eyes were a bit larger than my stomach. I ordered an mixed plate of marinated vegetables (peppers, artichokes, eggplant, olives, mushrooms) to pick ate while we perused the menu. I decided upon a Caprese, which I think can tell you a lot about a restaurant and the tagiatelle with truffles and shrimp. Angel went for the brushetta with tomatoes and olives and the seafood bounty pizza.
The marinated vegetables were really served cold, which wasn’t pleasant and everything tasted of lemons. It was distracting from the other flavors. I was really looking forward to the olives and artichokes, but both tasted like they were just scooped out of the jar from the fridge. Angel and I both were unimpressed.
When my caprese arrived, I recognized the presentation at once. It was similar the Sofia Hilton’s preparation, but La Piccola Casa’s was cruder and less elegant. The gouges in the tomato were not conducive to the desired fanning effect of the tomato and cheese, plus the mozzarella cheese, if you could call it that was of really poor quality as was the under ripened cold tomato (in October, so my bad for ordering out of season).
Angel’s bruscetta was a nice balance of salty and sweet, served on crisp toasts, which was a nice surprise. I have a peeve against soggy bruscetta, served on white sandwich slices
For our next course, Angel’s pizza arrived about 10 minutes before my main. The crust was distinctly more Italian and crispy, as opposed to the soggy crust you find in at most Bulgarian pizzerias. The seafood bounty on top weren’t bad and he finished the pie.
When my pasta finally arrived, it was cooked a tad too al dente, but the big surprise was the cream sauce, the menu made no indication that it would be SWIMMING in a heavy dense truffle cream sauce with four seriously over cooked shrimp (and the tails were not removed). Once I was served my dish the waiter disappeared without offering me fresh Parmesan or cracked black pepper. The dish needed both as the sauce was bland and I didn’t manage to finish it. Considering that the price of the pasta dish was about 13 leva, I can’t imagine that they used real truffles.
Over all, I am a bit disappointed with La Piccola Casa. Despite their manifesto about choosing the best and freshest ingredients, which was printed on the top of their menu in Bulgarian, English and Italian, I find they missed the mark a bit.
Some of you might be surprised that I plan on returning to give it another go, but it is sheerly out of convenience. For those of you who have ever ordered from BG menu, it takes a mind-boggling 1 hour and 20 – 30 minutes to get your order and when I get home from work at 8pm, I don’t want to have dinner at 9:30. Piccola Casa give me the option of a quick meal with out having to trek to the center. For this, I can look on the bright side and them another shot.
La Piccola Casa
4 Blvd Tzar Boris III (@ Blvd. Prof. Ivan Geshov)
Tel: +359 885 650022, 0885 766464 Italian speaking: 0884 715706