Readers' Choice winner, Westside Restaurant Awards 2016
With stunning mountains, a rich history and crystal-clear waters it’s easy to see why Sicily is considered as one of Southern Italy’s real pearls. As well as being blessed with nature’s finest, this stunning island – which sits just off the tip of Italy’s boot and is the largest in the Mediterranean – also boasts fabulous food and wine.
Given the chance, I would readily hop on a plane and while away a few weeks soaking up the scent of lemon trees, nibbling on arancini and sipping Marsala. But for those of us stretched for time and/or money, or simply don’t fancy the 4,000-mile round trip, we’re extremely fortunate that there’s a taste of Sicily right on our doorsteps.
Casanova has been part of Crookes since 1997 and, with quality Italian cuisine, a friendly atmosphere and personal service, it has become a firm favourite with loyal customers. We visited the restaurant one Saturday evening, and were pleasantly surprised to find it had avoided the January slump and was already busy with early evening diners.
Despite this being our first time at Casanova, owner Salvo greeted us like old friends – as he did with everyone who came through the door that evening. And, while the welcome is warm the atmosphere is too, with attentive staff (who kept our glasses topped with a smooth full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the evening) and a cosy wood and leather interior.
Alongside the standard menu, there’s an impressive selection of specials and, on Salvo’s recommendation, I opted for the asparagus with dolcelatte sauce; a wonderfully rich indulgence with crushed walnuts and a refreshing lemon zest. My companion enjoyed a lighter, but equally flavoursome pan-fried mushroom and bacon salad, with parmesan shavings and Italian dressing.
For main course I couldn’t resist the Orata Orientale. Two perfectly cooked fillets of sea bream arrived beautifully presented in a delicious soy sauce with ginger, garlic and chilli, served with accompanying vegetables – the ideal light-but-flavour-packed dish I’d been hoping for.
My less carb-conscious companion opted for the tagliatelle pollo and enjoyed a steaming bowl of pasta sautéed with tasty strips of chicken breast and mushrooms, in a mascarpone, dolcelatte and rosemary sauce. This was real hearty comfort food at its finest.
Despite my earlier healthy intentions, I threw all caution to the wind when our waitress assured us the tiramisu was the best in England. Although I can neither confirm nor deny this – having not tried every tiramisu in the land – I can say it was pretty damn good, especially with an accompanying Tia Maria.
My tiramisu, in fact, was an ideal summary of Casanova as a whole: if they do something, they do it well. As Salvo joined us at our table once again and regaled tails of his youth in Sicily he told us: “Working in catering is like being a priest you know; you pour some wine and listen. Just like in confession.” So whether you’re after top notch Italian cuisine, the most delicious tiramisu, or are in need of a good glass of wine and a friendly ear, Salvo and his team will welcome you with open arms and a kiss on each cheek.
Casanova, 200 Crookes, Sheffield, S10 1TG.
Tel: 0114 2666 684