Isn't it wonderful when a restaurant turns out to be even better than you expected? That was my family's experience at Casella's in the Barracks Road Shopping Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The lasagna I ordered was possibly the best non-homemade lasagna I ever had — a not-too-sweet tomato sauce and plenty of luscious ricotta cheese, plus ground beef, noodles, and mozzarella added up to an excellent entree. (The lasagna was topped with a thin square of oh-so-commercial-looking mozzarella and a brave but modest sprig of parsley. This presentation did not seem to bode well, but one taste chased away my misgivings.) By the way, a friend recommends their Spinach Lasagna.
I had a house salad before the main course. It consisted of nice fresh greens, tomato, cucumber, a bit of carrot and red cabbage, onion, and lots of croutons. Those croutons were VERY crunchy. Though good, they could present a danger to delicate teeth.
Casella's Chef's Salad.
Hubby Henry ordered the Chef's Salad. This gargantuan pile of protein was basically a platter of strips of turkey, ham, and provolone cheese resting on some lettuce, garnished with tomato, cucumber, and onion. It was mammoth. Oh, it also sported croutons and tomato on top.
We both had requested blue cheese dressing on the side, which turned out to be packets of Ken's brand. It was OK, but not chunky or impressive.
Daughter Sarah got the Pasta Salad, a pretty bowl of tricolor rigatoni noodles, ripe olives, red bell peppers, chopped purple onion, and tomato wedge marinated in a light Italian dressing replete with rosemary and oregano.
She also had a slice of veggie pizza with onion, green pepper, and fresh (not canned) mushrooms. The rim of the crust was hard and the green pepper was dried out, but the overall flavor was good.
Casella's Eggplant Parmigiana Sub.
Son Jonathan ate a satisfying Eggplant Parmigiana Sub.
A very pleasant house burgundy at the reasonable price of $2.50 a glass added to our dining pleasure. Our meal cost an average of $12.00 per person.
Casella's is open for lunch, at which time you order at the counter. (Incidentally, you can watch the pizza-making behind a counter at the front of the long, deep dining room. Also, from the tables near the front, you can observe passing shoppers outside and see a pretty fountain.)
At night there is full table service. Our young waiter was prompt, pleasant, and polite. In fact, Casella's was delightful overall, and their extensive menu promises more happy meal choices in the future.
Copyright © 2005 Patricia B. Mitchell.