The husband-and-wife team of Nicola and Maria Simone have moved up from being a catering and takeout business to a sit-down Italian restaurant, A Casa Tua, in a new location on Cortez Road.
The former Jose’s Real Cuban Food location at 8799 Cortez Road W. has been made over to have the feel of an authentic, small-town Italian restaurant with white walls, red-and-white checkerboard pattern table cloths and a friendly, warm ambiance.
Come to A Casa Tua, translated from Italian as “To your home” for authentic Italian cuisine, served in an unhurried, comfortable setting, the couple say.
Nicola, trained in the culinary arts in Torino, Italy, and with more than a quarter century of cooking experience, handles the cooking, while Maria greets diners, takes their orders and chats with them about what is happening in the kitchen.
“There is no hurry here. Everything is very relaxed,” Nicola said.
Which naturally invites guests to check out the Italian wine list, have a beer or Italian coffee.
“Everything is made fresh. We buy things step-by-step because we don’t have a lot of storage space,” Maria said.
A Casa Tua was formerly at 8208 Cortez Road W., where the couple focused on catering and takeout. But at the request of customers, they added four tables to their location, and it went so well the Simones began looking for a restaurant space with a dining room.
They opened Feb. 6 in the new space and now have 35 seats, divided between the long, narrow dining room up front and a smaller dining room in the back, which is ideal for private parties.
Top of the menu is antipasti, the traditional opening course for Italian meals, including among other offerings Parmigiana de Melanzane (layers of eggplant with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese) for $10, and Cozze alla Calabrese (mussels in fresh tomato sauce with spicy red pepper) for $13.
Yes, the titles are in Italian, but the explainers are in English.
Next on the menu are sea and land offerings, including chicken, veal, lamb and fish entrees, ranging in price from $17 to $24.
There is a soup and salad section, and, of course, many pasta entrees.
Most of the pasta entrees list for $17 to $19, including Penne Primavera (zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil, white wine and garlic), Spaghetti alla Carbonara (eggs, Italian pancetta, onions, parmesan cheese and black pepper) and Lasagna Emiliana.
A Casa Tua is open for dinner from 5-8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday , 5-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5-8:30 pm. Sunday.
The couple are planning to add lunch hours in about two weeks. Other changes planned include a revised wine list, the addition of live entertainment, the resumption of cooking classes and their first wine dinner on May 21 at 6:30 p.m.
The wine dinner will include five courses, each based on different regions of Italy. Price: $69, by reservation only at 941-251-6855.
“We come from a small town in Italy. When we first moved to the United States, we lived in Miami. But Miami was too large and busy for us. We like Bradenton better,” Nicola said.
“It’s still a work in progress. We want to create a little piece of Italy that is as relaxing and friendly as Italy,” he said.
For more information about A Casa Tua, visit acasatuachef.com.