I used to enjoy the Grapevine Trattoria in the Heritage Mews so walking into its new incarnation, Cucina di Casa, was like a flashback, bathed in a cream-coloured makeover with the same tables, chairs, and layout exactly the same save for the fresh cream textiles. The menu layout is strong, clean (is that Helvetica?) with a reasonable (read: not too large) choice
of the usual suspects for an Italian restaurant at lunchtime. The price point is also good for the Nanaimo market ($10-15 range or $15-$25 for dinner).
The panino of bocconcini, prosciutto, tomato and lettuce with a side of mixed greens catches my eye. Yes, it’s tasty. Very tasty. But I’m perplexed that it’s only grilled on one side. In fact, the top piece of focaccia is toasted while the bottom is raw. So I ask our waitress, “Is it supposed to be grilled on both sides?” She answers, “No, it’s only grilled on one side.” Which leads me to The Panini Thing:
1) Note: the oft-used term “panini” is actually the plural form of sandwich in Italian. The appropriate term here, for a/my single sandwich, is “panino”.
2) I asked an actual Italian and apparently panini, when grilled, are customarily grilled on both sides. A quick online search didn’t yield a single panini press with just one grill-plate. Don’t have a panini press? Grill one side then flip it and do the other. (Suggestion of the same actual Italian). Think about it: would you have a grilled cheese sandwich that was grilled on just one side? No, you would flip it. (That one’s from the wife of the actual Italian).
For a quiet Monday lunchtime (read: one other table) the service is actually pretty lackadaisical. Hypothesis: the waitress, confronted with such an effortless shift, slipped into a mindset where she actually forgot she was working at all. That said, she was friendly and we got what we needed without a long wait.
Notwithstanding the Grill Fail, I enjoyed that panino and cleaned my plate. It won’t be a hard sell to get me back there for dinner but I’ll probably stick to the pasta.
Food or Fail rating: Food