Meaning ‘the little house’ in Italian, Bali’s La Casetta restaurant may be small and homely, but it certainly punches well above its weight when it comes to their menu. FRV Travel drops by to see what’s going on.
Text by Thomas Jones
One visit to this petite Italian restaurant in the village of Umalas just north of Seminyak’s bright lights and you will definitely be back for more. La Casetta is out of the way for most tourists, making up most of its clientele from expats and those in the know. The steady stream of Italian accents that can be heard over dinner surely shows that the grapevine is alive and thriving in Bali, for wherever Italians go in the world, demand for their mama’s cooking goes too, and this Italian restaurant knows this only too well. The secret is in the kitchen’s special ingredient.
Meet Iis, the non-Italian Italian cook who cooks just like mama does. Iis is a Javanese woman who has spent 20 years working for an Neapolitan expatriate and his mother here in Bali, combining all the tricks of the Javanese kitchen with those of the two generations of Italians who employ her; and they are nothing if not passionate about their food. She’s practically family and she cooks pasta like a native.
She insists on using only the best produce, the best oils, bakes her own breads, and all the pasta is made in-house with the exception of the spaghetti. All the meat and fish are sourced fresh each day, and if it’s not the very best quality at the market, then it’s simply not on the menu.
Most of the food is inspired by Napoli with seafood a particular specialty, the spaghetti vongole and the orecchiette allo scoglio being out of this world. Rome and the north feature as well via a mean carbonara, and they also provide regular specials from the various regions of Italy on a weekly basis.
The restaurant even feels like someone’s Italian mother’s house and there is a genuine family atmosphere to be had every day of the week. The décor is simple and homely; an elegant mismatch of chairs and tables of varying sizes, an open terrace on the roadside, a tiled floor and striped wallpaper on the walls.
There are no five star pretentions about La Casetta, just good, honest, simple food prepared on site with good ingredients and with the most expert of timing, the two keys to Italian cuisine’s appeal, and indeed success. The service is the same: honest, friendly and fast.
Umalas is fast growing into an upscale neighbourhood with new, quality restaurants popping up slowly but surely, and La Casetta is helping to show that you don’t have to go all the way to Seminyak or Petitenget to get good quality food. The restaurant is full most nights but reservations are still not a necessity. Don’t chance it though. Call now.
Jl Bumbak 172, Bali