Restaurant Gems in Mississauga: Casalinga

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First Impression:
When we walked into Casalinga in Mississauga around 8 pm on a Saturday night, the restaurant was bustling and full.  It's a small, cozy space that only holds about 50 people and it was packed! 

Good thing I made a reservation online.  The crowd was busy eating and conversing, but you could still hear the hiss of the cappuccino machine in the background.  We'd been to Casalinga a couple of times in the past and were excited to try it again.

The Good:    

“Watching the servers was like seeing a well rehearsed dance as they wove around each other and whisked away empty dishes.”

It was very clear that this Tuscan restaurant has matured and found its groove.  Watching the servers was like seeing a well rehearsed dance as they wove around each other and whisked away empty dishes.  I love that the specials are written in Italian on various blackboards around the room.  Food-wise, the house-made Tiramisu was outstanding -- coffee soaked ladyfingers whose flavour came through on the first taste, followed by sweet (but not too sweet) cream and the dusting of rich chocolate on the top.  It was so light and airy, like a feather.  A little bit of heaven on a plate!  Save room for it; you'll be sorry if you miss it!

The Unique:   

“Tucked back in the corner is a wood fired pizza oven that bakes delicious thin crust pizzas”

Wood fired pizza of course!  Tucked back in the corner is a wood fired pizza oven that bakes delicious thin crust pizzas with a crispy yet soft and chewy crust that is to die for.  The crusts are hand thrown - a pleasure to watch if you're lucky enough to be seated in full view as we were - and then dressed and baked to perfection.  I don't think there are many wood fired pizza ovens in Mississauga, so this one is definitely worth a try for lunch or dinner.

What they can improve on: 

It's really hard to find something that could be better.  Our meal was delicious and the service was excellent, if perhaps a bit too fast.  As our reservation was at 8 pm, I had hoped to sit back and just enjoy a leisurely dinner. However, the courses appeared so quickly that we really didn't have time to relax and savour our wine. 

What else we tried: 

We started with the house Multipulciano d'Abruzzo wine, which was light and flavourful and a perfect match to our dinner choices.  While we were perusing the menu, fresh bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar were brought to our table.  I really like it when they pour the green, grassy oil into a plate and then dollop the sweet yet tangy balsamic vinegar into it.  Perfect for dipping the soft and tender bread into - yum!

“The complexity of flavours on your tongue with the olives and capers, delicious tomato and slightly sweet dressing is very stunning indeed.”

We decided to share the Calamari alla Griglia con Gamberi ($14), or calamari and shrimp with a tomato, black olive and caper salsa.  The complexity of flavours on your tongue with the olives and capers, delicious tomato and slightly sweet dressing is very stunning indeed.  Perhaps the calamari could have been marinated a little longer and had a few more grill marks for flavour, but the shrimp had that perfect pop when you bit into them. 

We tried the Pancette e Funghi Pizza ($16) and were thrilled.  Who knew that Italian bacon and mushrooms could be so incredibly delicious? The thin crust was that perfect juxtaposition between crisp and chewy and each bite had a unique taste because of the variation of ingredients in your mouth. The salty bacon joins the party as a fantastic dance with the earthy mushrooms and creamy cheese.  There was also a pepper sauce for dipping which was not hot at first taste, but had that lovely, slow heat up as you continued to eat.  All around delicious! 

And of course, we ended the meal with the tiramisu as mentioned above.  It was a perfect ending!

Final Thoughts: 

Many plates of delicious looking pasta passed our table as we were waiting for the pizza we were going to share.  It was all I could do not to reach out my fork and have a taste!  I'll definitely go back to try the wide selection of pastas or secondi:  veal, salmon or chicken.  Maybe I'll have to go back more than once - everything looked really great!  So for a delicious dinner, make a reservation and head out to Casalinga.  It's worth it!

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