Photo by Rich Schmitt
Michael Aushenker , Staff Writer
You feel like a character from an Antonioni movie as you zip up Palisades Drive in your convertible during the magic hour, taking in the late-afternoon lavenders and ambers cast on the green mountains. So it's only fitting that your destination, should you be hungry, be Casa Nostra Ristorante at 1515 Palisades Drive in the Highlands.
'I've always opened for other people,' says Giovanni Zappone, who has run the restaurant with his partners, Michele Scarpino and Nostra's chef, Gerardo Ballesteros, since last August. 'This is the first restaurant I've opened for myself.'
The son of trattoria owners in his native Italy, Zappone says that having the same chef from the previous Italian restaurant gives the eatery continuity from when it was Paolo's Ristorante and ensures the quality of the food, for which Nostra uses only the freshest ingredients. He says he'll pay more for the best products rather than take shortcuts that compromise the taste.
Credit Rhett Nadolny
Pacific Palisades Patch
Editor Amanda Salem
Casa Nostra serves genuine Italian cuisine in a classy and relaxed atmosphere. Before opening its doors in 2009, the restaurant was Paolo's, owned by Paolo Marrazzi, for about a year. The new owners, Giovanni Zappone, Michele Scarpino and chef Gerardo Ballesteros changed the menu to offer higher-quality food for less. The interior is comfortable and a bit rustic, with tile floors, plenty of wood furnishings and yellow walls. The menu features classic Italian creations, like spaghetti with meat sauce, paninis and pizzas, along with specialty dishes like papardelle d'anatra, wide noodles served in a duck ragu, or the branzino alla livornese, a filet of sea bass sauteed with cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives, with spinach.
Guests can sit in the cozy dining room or enjoy the view form the patio. Wines from California and Italy are available by glass or bottle. Party menus are available for large parties and catering.