La Casa Pasta was suggested by the Lonely Planet guide, and we felt like eating Italian food despite our bad experience in the Nuvolari Italian restaurant in Rotorua.
The restaurant atmosphere is definitely nice, but service is slow and poor.
We are Italian and we were maybe expecting too much, but I would never call La Casa Pasta an "Italian restaurant".
The food we had was almost not eatable: too much onions in the tomato sauce, and to much tomato sauce on pasta. Pasta is served with cooking water and it is overcooked...
My husband ate some food, I only managed to eat a dessert.
Oh, we better had studied the menu more thoroughly! But at least my view was so selectively focused on the Italian dishes I expected of this restaurant (and the reasonable prices) that I did not notice the international mish-mash. Had I got aware of tzatziki and hummus dips with Pita bread, and chicken curry, traditional Greek salad and not a single authentic Italian dessert I would have become suspicious if this restaurant at Courtenay Place can really be called Italian.
There was still a chance to make a runner when we sat at our tiny table in the middle of the room. That was when I discovered that the chef’s name was Mister Tong or Wong or Chong. But we had already ordered our wine, so we stayed and hoped that the chef had spent a considerable amount of his life in Italy.
But it took a while until we could judge this. It took about 45 minutes until the pasta meals arrived – and only after having asked if the food would ever arrive because we were concerned I would not catch my flight back to Christchurch… The waitress said we should have told her earlier – as if we could have suspected that they had to hunt down the pig before curing the ham! Obviously they have accommodation facilities for those people who are not in a hurry, so they can serve dinner between midnight and breakfast time…
Anyway. After they fast-tracked our food it arrived after 45 minutes. It was not really bad, rather edible and tasty even – but not really Italian. The cream sauces of our fettuccine dishes were not gluey-creamy but fluffy creamy, just the consistency you achieve when binding it with cornflour or flour. The Seafood Velvet with all kinds of seafood and slightly overcooked fish was pinkish and therefore acceptable, the creamy egg-sauce of the Fettuccine alla Bologna (with ham, onion and mushroom) was so white as if it had been washed with Nappisan at 90 degrees, and there it was so much of it that the pasta swam in the white soup. However, I was told it was tasty.
My co-diner said the restaurant was popular with young people – but I did not know that she wanted to tell me that she considered young people had no idea of real cooking and would eat anything as long as it did not cost a lot LOL
I would say: Go there if you do not want to pay a fortune, do not expect real Italian food, and have a lot of time. Or just ask upon arrival how long it would take to serve a pasta dish, as you have to catch a plane…
The restaurant is located in Dixon Street, on the way from Courtenay Place to Cuba Street. Mains from NZ$ 11.50 (lasagne), desserts $ 7.50 (as July 2008).
See menu http://www.wotzon.com/menu.html?comp_id=1002398&CatID=2 here