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La Casa Mia gives new meaning to term ‘home cooking’

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A Sarnia couple has taken the unusual step of opening a restaurant in their home.

For $100 per person, diners enjoy a leisurely five-course meal prepared by Joe Giresi, who learned to cook while growing up in Sicily.

Giresi and his wife, Caroline, established La Casa Mia in their Lakeshore Road home nearly a year ago after outfitting a second dining room with a table big enough to seat 12 to 14.

It also has its own adjoining open kitchen. Public health regulations don’t allow a restaurant business to operate in a family-used kitchen and dining room.

Joe cooks his elaborate meals from scratch while Caroline is hostess and server.

“Italians aren’t rushed about anything,” she says. “We want people to feel like family when they come here. We want them to feel at home.”

Most meals at La Casa Mia take four to five hours to serve and enjoy. Afterward, guests are encouraged to lounge around the table with cappuccino and biscotti, listening to classical Italian music and surrounded by photos and souvenirs from Joe’s many trips back to the home country.

“I love to cook and I have a passion for making food the way they did when I was a kid in Sicily,” he said.

Authentic Sicilian food is flavourful with lots of fresh herbs. Some dishes can be spicy but the Giresis cater to their guest’s dietary needs and will prepare everything from less spicy to gluten-free and dairy-free meals.

Joe makes homemade bread, his own fresh pasta and desserts from scratch on the day it’s served. He also makes his own ricotta cheese and cures his own olives.

La Casa Mia takes reservations on Friday and Saturday evenings only and accepts reservations as small as one or two.

A party smaller than a dozen can expect to be seated with two or three other parties, a feature that makes the dining experience that much more unique.

A menu served recently included antipasto, followed by zucchini soup, then a palate cleanse with arugula and watermelon salad. Homemade papardelle pasta made with Italian parsley, olive oil, hot peppers and garlic was the next course. Sicilians don’t eat creamy sauces like the Italians in the north, Joe explained.

A palate cleanse followed with mulberry granita, an Italian ice, then the main course of stuffed chicken on a bed of lemon risotto and sautéed beet greens.

Dessert was tiramisu and chocolate and fresh mint gelato.

The $100 price is the same for each person. It’s BYOB and gratuity and taxes are included.

The Giresis bought their home seven years ago without a restaurant in mind. He is a real estate agent and she is a newly retired business solutions specialist.

Joe has a background in restaurants and retail. He started Giresi’s Pizza in 1979 with his brother, Sam. He also owned a local record store at one time.

About four years ago, he offered a home-cooked Sicilian meal as an auction item for a church fundraiser. That went over so well he repeated it for a few years, and people began encouraging Joe to cook more.

“We are very faithful people, so we prayed about it and talked about it,” he said.  “Then we decided, nothing ventured, nothing gained and started La Casa Mia.”

Initially, one or two reservations came in a month.

“Then growth was overwhelming,” said Caroline.  “We are now booking nearly every Friday and Saturday, two months in advance.”

La Casa Mia can be reached by calling or texting 519-336-6868 or 519-402-0063. There’s also a Facebook page. Location is disclosed at the time of reservation.

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Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.

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