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Golden Spoons Review: Casanova

| 02/05/2016 | 43 Comments

CNS Business(CNS Foodie): Casanova is considered one of the best restaurants in Cayman. It is situated right on the waterfront in George Town, and if it’s ambiance you are after, you will not be disappointed. We had a very pleasant young man as our server. When he came to the table, he enthusiastically recommended the specials and other items on the menu.

I had not taken a good look at the menu when he arrived to take the order, so while he took my friend’s order I tried to look quickly over the menu, feeling a little under pressure to order. While I was still looking, the waiter gave me a few suggestions and was even willing to mix two different dishes for me. Finally, he helped me to decide on my appetizer and main course.

I had the calamari to start, which was $9.95.  It was good and I enjoyed it. However, before I had finished it, the main course was put on the table by another older waiter, who put the plate in front of me causing me to move my starter to the side. As I tried to eat it quickly so that he could remove my plate, he said that he had to bring the food because it was ready, but added, “No hurry, take your time, take your time!”

He asked if this was a little fast. Erm, yes, just a bit. But rather than remove the main course dish from the table until I had finished my starter, he left the food and took off. Zero points for service to that server!

My friend had a slice of tomato with mozzarella for her appetizer. She enjoyed it, but at $14.95, she was a little surprised at the cost of it. (We did not see the price as the waiter just told us that it was one of the specials for tonight.)

We both ended up having the special seafood pasta dish, which was homemade pasta with a couple of shrimp and three or four little bits of lobster. The presentation was nice but it was a little over salty, and at $24.95, too pricy for what it was. More lobster and shrimp might have made it worth the money.

I had not been to Casanovas in over three years because my last experience was not a good one. Back then I ordered one of my favorite desserts: Tiramisu. It was old and tasted awful and put me right off ever wanting to return here.

This time, mainly out of curiosity, I wanted to try the Tiramisu again. What a disappointment! It was old and absolutely not freshly made. There was only one layer of sponge cake or ladyfingers as the base, which is all I could eat as the rest of the cake tasted horrible.

When the waiter returned to the table and saw that I had not finished my dessert, he very kindly took it off the bill.

“You should have gone with the English cake special that I recommended,” he said. He was absolutely right about that.

Casanova was once a great dining experience for me, but sadly, standards have clearly been allowed to slip. Will I return again with clients I might wish to impress? I think not.

Gratuity: 15% added to the bill.

Readers’ rating for Casanova:

Category: Golden Spoons Review, Good Food. Bad Food.

Comments (43)

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  1. Yohan says:

    Casanova… Its unique and the food is excellent… Sometimes you just can’t pleased every taste.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Blame this on Ivan too, but the atmosphere of the original Casanova with a bar that could only seat two could not be replicated and most of us are still comparing food and ambience to those days.

    That being said, we are a bit spoiled by the high quality restaurants on Island. For comparison we ate at Dolce Italian in this weekend, a restaurant rated #3 in Miami Beach on Trip Advisor.

    Without going into what we had in great detail, (pizza, fritto misto, short ribs on risotto, salmon) I always find the food at Casanova’s very good and certainly as good as Dolce, a restaurant owned and operated by a large restaurant group. Such is their pedigree that Scott Conant runs one of their restaurants in Vegas.

    But I agree Casanova’s could do with some updating. The wine list, the supercharged male servers and the same old menus need attention.

    But the other commentor is right, penne with salmon is the best dish on the menu and no improvement needed there!

    I don’t agree with the reviewer on Food and Value, certainly it is one of the better value restaurants on Island and usually the food is at 4 stars.

    Ciao!

    • Anonymous says:

      No it’s not just a comparison to the old Casanova (which, truth be told, I don’t remember very well). It’s a comparison to the new Casanova when it reopened and the few years after that before food costs shot up, disposable income fell and tourism declined – when it was full at lunch time. It’s a comparison to Cafe Med as well, which had superior food even after Casanova reopened.

      I don’t begrudge anyone for making money, but when I see the owner’s Mercedes parked on the sidewalk and I know that I’m eating cheap ingredients and drinking cheap wine, it’s just a little bit insulting.

      • iday1705@yahoo.es says:

        You may be jealous of the car he may be driving… What in the world that have to do with the food.
        You my need to open your own restaurant and see how can you handle everything… Good luck!!
        Some people are better at what the currently know what to do best.
        I would suggest you to spend some money and get good wines… There is variety of it…
        Let’s see… Oh! You may can’t afford them… Lmao!
        Try their lobster, ha! Maybe you can’t afford that one too…Oops! What to eat!!!?

        • Anonymous says:

          It has everything to do with the food because it shows that the priority of the establishment is to make money, not serve customers the best.

  3. SouthSounder says:

    I have not eaten there for a long time, in the past I found the phony Italian greeting off-putting, the food dreadfully disappointing and expensive for what it was and the wine vastly over priced but….to have a secret Restaurant Critique and her friend order the very same dish, is utter nonsense! …what were you thinking of?…this is supposed to be a comprehensive review, you did not mention the wine, the cleanliness, the rest rooms, specials, parking, table dressing etc.
    If you need help, I’m hungry, available and anxious that you make a better job of this Blog, for everyone’s sake.

  4. PCDER says:

    I wonder how the owner will react to all this negativity. I posted once as a reviewer on a site and he knew it was me and called my boss at work to complain that I was saying bad things about his business. I wonder if he will call all of your bosses to complain if he knew who you were? I wasnt’ allowed my freedom of speech. So Sad!

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s probably not very happy. But this is the problem: as much as there is that is charming and redeemable about the restaurant, and criticism might seem unfair when many still enjoy going, the fact is that the food and service have been going in the wrong direction for a long time. Tony is the kind of person who you would never say this to, but he cares deeply about his business, so he ought to know.

      Competition is not the main threat to a place like Casanova’s and the health of the restaurant isn’t dependent on how many other options there are. The threat is the loss of regulars who used to think you were the best but now don’t know where to eat. The perception of the place has changed as local tastes have moved on and standards have slipped. Nostalgia kept me eating there for months after I should have noticed the decline. Now I find myself holding the view that until the menu is completely reworked (keep and improve favourites, otherwise new dishes with newly sourced ingredients and kitchen plan), service is improved, and the outdated elements are addressed, I won’t be going back unless for some reason I feel compelled to eat one of the dishes I like or a family member wants to go.

      I used to go several times a month for no reason at all but the memories of the meals and experiences I had in the past have been replaced over time. They need to stop the drift and take the place in a new direction. No gimmicks (fresh pasta board, harpist, daily lunch special), just a new style of food with service to match.

    • Anonymous says:

      wow that is absurd, sorry, considering the food and restaurant are awful and the only thing going for Casanovas is the view.

    • Anonymous says:

      To PCDER
      You are spot on. Calling your boss is out of line. Like tattling and bullying. I hope your boss saw through him.
      Casanova’s is overrated. Regulars don’t matter because it is a tourist place like Calypso Grill. (Good atmosphere but both over priced)

  5. Sorry, but you lost all credibility with your first sentence. I don’t care how much someone might like Casanova, but to start with a premise that it is one of Cayman’s best restaurants is ridiculous and demonstrates that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cassanova is best restaurant ever in Cayman

  7. Anonymous says:

    Another Cayman eatery with an “Americans don’t know the difference” philosophy. Cheap ingredients, fake Italian greeters…”Ciao Bella???!”, below average food. Any restaurant in Cayman that discounts the importance of premium ingredients will eventually fail. Sorry Tony but you have lost the plot. You would be run out of your home town in Italy if you tried to serve Casanogo food.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I will say one thing for Casanova’s: it serves without question the best local lobster you can get, broiled with herbs served with a toasted garlic drawn butter and choice of sides. The generous seasoning enhances the sweetness of the meat. None of the other preparations of local lobster served by any other restaurant come anywhere near it. Of course, a restaurant should have more than 3 months a year when it shines…Casanova’s unfortunately, during slow season, doesn’t.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why would anyone go to Casanova and not get the penne with salmon?

  10. Anonymous says:

    So many nasty people with strong opinions…

    • Anonymous says:

      Fed up with the line up of waiters kissing every female guest . Added to lousy food and service have stopped going there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are the opinions a bit strong for you, ma’am? Here, let me take that and bring you another one.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t been to Casanova’s in quite some time, not because I have had a bad experience, but because my son is no longer here and it was his favourite place to eat. I have to say that I am shocked at this review. Methinks I need to check out Casanova’s fo rmyself and see if it has really fallen off the radar as some folks have said. Very disappointed to read this review

    • Anonymous says:

      It has, not the same Casanova at all, My son loves shrimp pasta and with Dolce Vita closing down Casanova was my next choice. Both times I bought it the pasta was dry. Once, the shrimp was over cooked and for the price and the little bit of shrimp they give is not worth it. Service has also dropped significantly. IMO Dolce Vita had much better food but way overpriced and you could always count on a crowd NOT being there.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dolce Vita was always empty and closed for a reason. Casanova’s has been in Cayman for many many years. It’s a lovely place. Everyone can improve and can use constructive criticism. But there’s no need to be rude or mean with the comments.

  12. Ebanks says:

    I personal eat there regularly and I really enjoy the food and I disagree with this review Casanova is a very good value for the money you spend, service is the best you can find they mostly Italian waiters and the food is outstading.

  13. Anonymous says:

    So the restaurant reviewers ordered squid and a tomato mozzarella to start, two special pastas and split a tiramisu.

    Perhaps it is the writers who need to leave the 80’s not the venue.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t been to Casanovas in years due to having had bad experiences in the past regarding food quality. To be honest, I always found their menu to be incredibly boring and nothing special at all. So recently went back as I was invited to a function held there and it was the same disappointment. Boring menu, three people on our table complained that food wasn’t seasoned, the food I ordered was so, so.

    I know there are some people who are big fans of the place, but I assume that has more to do with the ambience (not sure I get that point either) and knowing some of the people who own it/run it/work there with memories of how the place once used to be……..

  15. Anonymous says:

    Fillipino, Fillipino, Fillipino,……they cook and know Fillipino food. Why hire an Asian to cook Italian food. Why hire a Frenchman to cook Chinese food? Jamacians would know Italian better than Fillipinos.

    • Yohan says:

      You should be demanded for discriminating with nationalities, when the kitchen & Chefs are no even Fillipinos; however a country where the people come from does not determine the quality of the food.

      You should not be small mind it in small town… Welcome Cayman Islands BOBO!!!

  16. Bwoy Hardee says:

    It’s a basic fare, faux Italian, tourist eatery on the sea. Everything your average American tourist wants.

    But no one has ever accused it of being “one of Cayman’s best restaurants”. Where did you get that notion?

  17. Anonymous says:

    First time I went here 10 years ago, we were on time for our reservation, and still waited an hour to be seated. Swore I would never go back, but behold a friend gave me a $100 gift certificate for Christmas, so I went again (about 2 years after the first experience.)
    Same exact experience, we were left waiting for our table while other people came behind us and got seated first. Seems like unless you know the host/ manager personally, they treat you like a nobody.
    The atmosphere is nice and the food decent, but if I’m in the mood for Italian, I’ll take Eduardo’s any day.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hate to say this, but part of the problem with Casanova’s is the mismatch between its employees…you have Asian cooks managed by Asian chefs (one Italian chef only there on some nights) and Caribbean servers managed by Italian managers, all serving stereotypical Italian-American food. Consequently, there is no passion put into the food and the service does not suit the food. None of the staff recognise what they’re doing as part of their own culture; they’re either doing or managing something that is foreign to them and the experience ends up feeling foreign or fake too.

      The whole restaurant is designed around stuffing American tourists with pasta while selling them wine and a view. Showing some culinary chops or adding some polish to the service is not only unnecessary to this mission, but against the philosophy of the place altogether. It’s all-about-a-being-Italiano-eh, you bring the bambinos this evening eh? Ciao senora how are you? You guys like another glass of wine? No hurry, take your time!

      Please, do hurry and get with the times, Casanova!

      • Anonymous says:

        Speaking as an American tourist, the food is better aboard ship. Love your Italuan racism though.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m-a-real-Italian! Ask my brother Luigi. Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a floating wooden block up ahead that I might smash into before going down that pipe…

    • Anonymous says:

      I wouldn’t go that far… Just go to Ragazzi. It’s consistently better than either of them.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear… As a big fan of the restaurant, I can say without doubt that standards have fallen in the last 8 or so years. Ingredient quality dropped and has never recovered. Service standards are falling. The menu NEVER changes, one or two dishes are added or replaced every couple of years but there is never anything new about them, just old tired standbys added to the menu for no particular reason. The house wine keeps getting worse, etc.

    The restaurant is focused on making money, and it succeeds at that, but it will find its share of local business suffering in the next few years if it does not improve, particularly its food, to suit the palates and expectations of the modern Cayman resident.

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