We were taken here by friends of ours on our last trip to Portugal – a couple clearly aware of my recent metamorphosis into a middle-aged homewares shopaholic drawn to “Homes under the Hammer”-type design shows like addicts to crack. A vast stone house at its front, shaded by pines and softly lit by hidden garden lights, Al4uatro Italian interior design shop conceals – in a massive industrial greenhouse at its rear – Casavostra pizzeria, like an open plan Californian designer home, brimming with hungry families and smelling of baked oregano bread.The menu is blissfully simple. Pizzas and pastas, antipasti and salads. A smattering of desserts includes piping hot pizza dough stuffed with nutella, on which to gorge like a 4 year-old at a C-Beebies tea party. Sitting in the main atrium feels like attending a supper club in some lucky bugger’s million pound holiday house.
You imagine there’s a host somewhere and we’re all invited to lounge by their massive fireplace at one end, or poke around their open plan kitchen at the other, we just never meet the host himself. As I pour myself a sparkling glass of rose sangria, I start mentally buying furniture for the upstairs gallery and wonder about catchment areas.
We eat rotolli of pizza dough stuffed with smoked salmon and asiago cheese. The white sangria flows pleasantly, the bubbles making us feel summery and carefree despite the February chill outside. My pasta with pesto is unremarkable, but comforting. The gargantuan crackling log fire in the adjacent, palm tree-festooned room has me lulling into a middle-class fantasy somewhere between “Sideways” and “A Place in the Sun”, I barely notice what I’m eating.
Service was a tad disappointing, however, there’s enough activity around you, from families of 10 identical children modelling the latest Boden catalogue, to bemused waiters alternately waiting tables and posing ironically beside distressed furniture (is it for sale, or is it actually part of the restaurant?).
This is a haven for those who are tired of overpriced Algarve tourist-spot clams and chouriço. It also makes for a heavenly break from any over-eager Portuguese mothers with a meat-heavy feeding complex. In other words: Casavostra serves salad. Not exceptional, but highly recommended.
Casavostra: Avenida 5 de Outubro, nr 302 – Almancil, 8135-103 PORTUGAL