In the middle of Fortitude Valley is Casa Nostra Ristorante – or, Biagio and Sarah Biuso’s house. The first impression is the sensation of stepping into a sunlit, Italian day, all thanks to the sundrenched wall scenes (Taormina, Sicily) and glistening ruby wine bottles.  Both provide a cosy backdrop ideal for a chilly night, and although cold weather in Brisbane may be rare, who doesn’t want to snuggle into some warm, hearty food? Our excitement increased as we glanced at the diners sharing platters of Casa Nostra’s freshly made bread, antipastos, crispy pizzas and red wine (they have an excellent Sicilian wine list).

Sicilian food is all about seafood, but we sacrificed the Antipasto Sfiziozo – scampi, prawns and mussels in a bisque-esque sauce – for those readers who may not be able to eat it. Instead, for our entree, we opted for the Vitello Agnodolce – sliced veal carpaccio with caramelized onion sauce, green olives, pine nuts drizzled with a balsamic reduction – and the twice-cooked duck. The veal dish balanced subtle melt-in-your-mouth meat with crunchy pine nuts and tart Sicilian green olives, a must-try! And while duck can be fatty and is a choice we tend to avoid, the homemade potato chips won us over. Fresh spinach on the side was an added bonus.

Despite the temptation of ordering homemade pasta (seafood fettuccine, lobster filled pasta, and lamb ragu macaroni to list a few), we opted for lower carbs mains. I confess, the generous starter serving of crispy, crunchy, chewy, homemade bread prompted us to avoid a heavy meal. Swordfish, the catch of the day, was perched on a bed of couscous, which reflected the North African influence on Sicilian food. I selected the Scaloppini Ripieni,

pockets filled with spinach, sage, prosciutto and Asiago cheese on a bed of veggies that fulfilled my daily requirements.

Unfortunately this meant no braised lamb shank, slow-roasted crumbed and fried pork belly, or cheese filled chicken breast, but we’re tempted to return to try them!

We also justified sharing a delicious Tiramisu for dessert, and would definitely order it again.

In summary, the staff at Casa Nosa Ristorante create a wonderful dining experience. Those lucky enough to work nearby can even take advantage of the pared down lunch menu.

For those who make the drive, there’s even free three-hour parking on site – what more could you want?

Words by Toni Johnson Woods
Images provided by Liquidity Marketing