Casa Nova Bakery Cafe
Sometimes you have to venture out of Victoria’s downtown core to find the hidden gems. Casa Nova Bakery Cafe is a tiny but vibrant little eatery nestled on an unassuming stretch of Esquimalt Road.
Casa Nova (translated this literally means “new home”, not to be confused with the single monikered “Casanova”, the randy lothario of Venice) is a combination bakery, café, and delicatessen. We have always been nostalgic for the Portuguese buns we devoured on a visit to Quebec. Imagine our delight when we discovered that Casa Nova makes the same authentic (crusty on the outside, impossibly soft on the inside) buns, which transform the humble sandwich into a thing of beauty. We got even MORE excited when we realized that Casa Nova is a proper old school deli akin to what you’d find in Montreal. It was even full of old guys (obviously regulars) kibitzing with the young woman behind the counter. We love old timey delis! And we love old the guys who while away their afternoons in them.
On the day we visited, a bowl of soup and hefty sandwich was priced at a mere $6
Casa Nova serves breakfast and lunch. Sandwiches are made to order. You can choose between a club, Reuben, roast beef, tuna salad, BLT (or invent your own combo). For an authentic taste of Portugal, order an omelet with a side of house-made chorizo sausage. Or go for an old school diner classic, the Western omelet (made with onions, ham, and peppers). I ordered a Reuben. The sandwich was stacked with heaps of juicy, delectably salty corned beef, oozing melty cheese, tangy sauerkraut and a generous slathering of canary yellow ballpark mustard. I washed it all down with a glug of zingy Brazilian pineapple soda. Pure gustatory bliss!
Casa Nova, true to form, does not charge “downtown” prices. On the day we visited, a bowl of soup and hefty sandwich (on one of those legendary buns) was priced at a mere $6. A large latte is $2.95 (when is the last time you had a latte or cappuccino for under 5 bucks?). The hamburger (made in house) is just $6.95. With prices like these, you’ll have plenty of coin left over to take home a few Pasteis de Nata (flaky tarts with a silky custard filling), a Portuguese specialty. If you happen to be flush, order a European entrée such as the Bacalhau (salt cod) or Bifana (marinated pork loin with caramelized onions).
Casa Nova has a few pantry items for sale in addition to their deli and bakery fare. You can purchase some chorizo sausage (choose between hot and sweet), Portuguese cheese (sharp or mild) and roasted peppers to enjoy at home. It is well worth making the short trip across the bridge to Casa Nova. You’ll get old world European comfort without ever having to leave the island.
PETE’S PICKS: Club sandwich, Western omelet, Rueben sandwich, Portuguese tart, veggie omelet, Pasteis de Nata. Location: 492 Esquimalt Road. View in Google Maps. Click here to Visit the Casa Nova Catering and Bakery Cafe website.