Don't let the dated sign or easy-to-miss Vista location fool you. Waltz into Casanova Pizzeria on a weekend night and you're probably not going to find a seat--or a place to stand. Opened in 2006 by a Connecticut transplant, this joint has just three raised vinyl booths, seven wooden tables and a small bar area. But anyone who has sampled the heavenly, wood-fired, neo-Neapolitan pizza--with its airy, crackling, naan-like crust--will wait.
Casanova is a neighborhood haunt for in-the-know Benchites. Though Casanova serves up a modest menu, with 20 or so specialty pies, a handful of hot sandwiches and a few antipasto, it nonetheless caters to a diverse crowd--the beer-swilling after-work set trade hello's with parents bouncing toddlers on their laps. The place doesn't lure folks in with video games, buy-one-get-one gimmicks or fancy pizza tricks. Instead, Casanova keeps it refreshingly simple--three small, black-and-white photos of Rome are the only art.
When a couple of friends and I stopped into Casanova late-ish on a Tuesday evening, we had good luck finding a table. Over a bottle of the house cabernet sauvignon (Crow Canyon 2008, $13), we got down to business. Every pizza on the menu can be ordered in the 12-inch small size or the 18-inch large size, and each pie can be split halvsies with various toppings. Though our server mentioned that the Mondo ($10.50, $20.50)--tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives--was a crowd favorite, we decided to go a bit more eclectic with a half-Verde, half-Medusa ($9.25 small) and half-Juno, half-Idahoan ($9.25 small).
Not long after we bit into our first slices, a slew of hyperboles spewed from our pizza-packed mouths. "This is the best crust I've ever had. Period." And in short succession, "This pizza is worth moving to the Bench."
Whether it was the pesto-topped Verde, with its smoky, almost bacon-y mozzarella, the Idahoan, with its big hunks of sausage and potato, or the Medusa, with its sweet fig and pineapple chunks balanced by tangy gorgonzola--all three of us melted in Casanova's dreamy embrace. And even though the Juno was the last to disappear--a forest of arugula overpowered the fresh mozzarella and prosciutto--we still inhaled every last slice, minus a small pile of crusts, "the bones" as one pal called them.
On a return visit for lunch, daylight streamed through the large windows as sleepy Italian love songs spun through the room. After locking eyes longingly with the Medusa, I decided to mix it up with an eggplant parmesan sandwich ($7.50). Our sassy server encouraged me to try the eggplant parm sans bread, and while she was right to say the eggplant is perfect on its own, the lasagna-ish pile could've benefited from a toasty crunch.
Exiting Casanova's, I noticed a smattering of small, iron patio tables waiting patiently for summer. It's looks like there's just enough room for me, a Medusa, a Vista sunset and a glass of wine.
--Tara Morgan has let the Medusa slither into her heart.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Casanova Pizzeria.