Casa Nostra serves up authentic Italian favorites and outside-the-box weekly specials at their original location in Ben Lomond and their new location in Scotts Valley.
They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner until 9pm, and they offer breakfast starting at 8:30am on Saturday and Sunday. Raffaele Cristallo has owned Casa Nostra for eight years and has been living here for over 20 years. The restaurant’s name means “our house” in Italian, and Cristallo says their hospitality embodies just that. “The feeling here is very friendly service, people become our friends after the second time here and by the third or fourth time they become family,” he tells GT.
What are some of your signature dishes?
RAFFAELE CRISTALLO: The cioppino is authentic and delicious. It’s a seafood stew with clams, mussels, scallops, prawns, calamari and salmon, all in a tomato-based broth and finished with a few crunchy crostinis. I love it because I love seafood and it just has everything in there, and it’s all fresh. Another one is the boneless beef short ribs. They are flavorful and savory—it’s like comfort food. The sauce is rich and earthy, and they come in a red wine reduction with carrots, celery, onions, Italian herbs and potatoes and veggies on the side. It’s braised for many hours, and the meat is very tender. The specials are very popular, too, it’s kind of like the surprise on the menu, and they give us a chance to switch things up and let the chef show his creativity and do something different than the classics. They change every week and are different at both locations.
What are a couple unique house specialties?
Our tiger prawns wrapped in pancetta are very unique, and people really just love them. They are medium-sized prawns, you get six of them and the pancetta wrap is cured Italian bacon that makes the dish really amazing. Bacon is already good, but pancetta is even better. The Penne Contadina is also a mouthwatering house specialty that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a pasta dish with marinated chicken and rosemary, which gives it a really nice flavor. The sauce is a white wine cream sauce, and it comes with mushrooms, onions and a little fresh tomato to finish. It’s really delicious. Even just thinking about it makes me want to have it right now.
9217 Highway 9, Ben Lomond, 831-609-6132; 219 Mt. Hermon Road, Scotts Valley, 831-225-0590. ristorantecasanostra.com.