Anyone running the rule over Tripadvisor recently could be forgiven for thinking Italian food in Cardiff is enjoying something of a revival. Three of the top four slots are occupied thus: city centre favourite Cafe Citta at four, overtaken by recently reviewed- and very good- Il Pastificio on Wellfield Road. The runner-up for the entire city is a small, unassuming café-restaurant on Cowbridge Road East, close to the Ivor Davies pub: Calabrisella.
It is also tantalisingly close to our childminder’s, which means I’ve been hankering after a visit for since it opened last November. In that short time it has amassed a substantial following, with the counter serving both eat-in customers and a busy succession of orders for their takeaway meals- meatballs, lasagna, pastas and the like.
I went for a caffe freddo. This might have been only one consonant away from selling you out to Hyman Roth and undergoing an ill-fated fishing expedition on Lake Tahoe, but it was bracing on an unseasonably warm and pleasant day while we browsed.
The pizzas were huge. A cotto-ham and mushrooms, £8.50, for me, a margarita for my friend, who was taken aback by the sheer size of the thing for a mere £6.50. They were only a few inches short of a full cubit in diameter, for any fans of biblical non-standard units of measurement out there. The crust was baked to brittle perfection- none of your high street chain burger/hot dog/cheese stuffed monstrosities here. They are served on wooden turntables, which is a nice touch as you sit inches away from the street and watch life go by.
An array of arancini on the counter, clearly handmade in a range of shapes, was too much to resist. You even get to choose the one you most like the look of.
This was comfort food at its finest, with the crisp shell giving way to silky rice which in turn was stuffed with a rich ragu. At £2, a steal, and prepared from scratch- as is everything here. All pasta and pizze are hand-made, as are their desserts; even the bread for their panini and focacce is baked in-house daily.
Prices throughout are very reasonable: pizza, arancino and the coffee set me back £12, for more food that I could comfortably get through in one sitting. There’s a range of beers and liqueurs too, and a small range of Italian deli products- biscuits, crackers, wines- on offer here too.
A bit of a gem, this- another intriguing new(ish) opening in Canton with a loyal following. Italians behind the counter- two Calabrese, one Sicilian- ensures a hearty authenticity and home-cooked appeal to this food. The steady stream of Italian customers while we ate, suggests that may be even more so than I realise. Next time? Next time I’ll take some home, too.
154 Cowbridge Road East
029 20 225 839
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.