The Algarvian town of Almancil might not be high on your list of dining destinations seeing as the famed Quinta do Lago is almost next door, but take it from me, you won’t want to miss this one.
Tucked away behind a gated front on a road out of town, husband and wife team Matilde and Luis Nascimento have created a very impressive pizzeria. A pizzeria quite different from your average Italian pie shop.
Behind the gated front I am momentarily confused. A large white-walled traditional Portuguese house awaits me which turns out to be the retail space of fancy Portuguese design and lifestyle brand Alquatro .
A small sign points me through a rear doorway and I fell have been transported into a parallel universe. A space of IKEA proportions that is Pizzeria CasaVostra. A Thursday night and it is heaving. A large contemporary space with plenty of exposed metal and wooden beams; relics of its former life as the Alquatro showroom. A large roaring fireplace is at one end while at the other, another kind of fireplace – that all-important pizza oven.
Sangria made with prosecco (€10) materialises in front of me. “a house speciality” my waiter tells me.
I take sip. It’s glorious. “Got any other great suggestions?”
“Clams Casavostra (€15.80) is a no-brainer.” He tells me “cooked in our wood-fired oven in a pot with olive oil, garlic and coriander. The bresaola (€8.30) is pretty awesome too, comes from Valtellina and served with rocket and fresh parmesan.”
As we are a party of four, we decide to split the clams between us and get the bresaola too.
The clams are a unanimous success. Deliciously garlic and piping hot under a thin cap of pizza dough.. The bresaola authentically dark and spicy, the freshly-shaved parmesan a perfect partner.
I’m on a roll now and after a second helping of prosecco sangria, my fellow diners are fearless in their choices for mains.
I am particularly impressed that all of the listed pizzas qualify as potential choices for me. I’ve often been puzzled as to some of the strange concoctions that appear on pizza menus. Eventually, I pick a diavola pizza (€11.20) with added onions and mushrooms to accompany the mozzarella, tomato and spicy sausage. The others go for a cheese-free Siciliana pizza (€11.70) with tomato, onions, olives, tuna and oregano; a filet steak (€18.50) with Mediterranean sauce and sautéed potatoes and the Casavostra salad (€11) with mango, gorgonzola goat cheese, bacon and pine nuts.
There were many alternatives, far too many to list here, but front runners were: shrimp linguini (€12.90) fagotini (€12.70) fresh pasta stuffed with pears and ricotta, and tagliatta (€15) loin of veal marinated in mustard with rocket and linguini There is also gluten-free pasta and the vegetarian dishes are clearly marked
The mains are all epic. Generous portions cooked with love and affection using fresh herbs from their own garden.
My waiter is back with a knowing smile.
“All good eh?”
“Now you must have some signature desserts to finish.”
I’m always up for a challenge but hesitate for a minute. I am, like my fellow diners, already full.
“You really should not leave without trying our pannacotta with honey and cinnamon (€4) and strawberry salad with mint and limoncello” (€4)
Needless to say, resistance is futile. The desserts prove to be as formidable as the rest of this culinary experience.
Pizzeria CasaVostra is living proof that good food cooked well at affordable pricing is a recipe for success in anyone’s book. In my opinion, Luis and Matilde have produced an Italian masterpiece.
Tell me more about Pizzeria CasaVostra
Avenida 5 de Outubro, nº 302 8135-103 Almancil Portugal
Tel: +351 289 397 565
Pizzeria Casavostra is open every day from 12 noon to 11:30pm