Casanova’s is a local cafe and restaurant tucked away off the main street in a rustic, high ceilinged space with exposed wooden beams and an open kitchen. It immediately feels cosy and comfortable, with families and friends greeting each other as they come and go.
Co-owner Joe Lawrence explains that they are very much a space for the locals.
“I’d never really lived in a small town like this before but it’s been really nice just getting to know everyone. Because we’re a little bit tucked away we really rely on the local trade,” he told Region.
Joe runs Casanova’s with his partner Jacqui Casanova. The pair met while working in a Soho cafe in London. Joe was born in the UK, while Jacqui is Australian. When Jacqui’s parents moved to Braidwood and bought the building, Joe and Jacqui knew they had a great opportunity to start their own business after years of working for other people in the hospitality industry.
An important part of their ethos was to make as much from scratch as possible. As I sip my coffee I watch baker Nick shaping loaves and preparing the dough for their popular sourdough pizzas.
“It’s a little bit of a logistical challenge,” admits Joe.
“But if you’re going to run your own cafe you should try to do as much as you can from scratch. That’s what we’re all about.”
The pair also have a small garden out the back which grows fresh vegetables and herbs for the menu. It’s slowed down for winter, but they’re making plans for spring.
The breakfast menu at Casanova’s is simple but satisfying. Choose from French toast with apple, blackberry ricotta, crumble and honey, or smoked ham and comte scrambled egg with mustard onions on sourdough. I decide on the breakfast sandwich which comes on fluffy house-made focaccia. Creamy egg salad and peppery rocket are balanced by crispy pancetta and rich onion jam.
The Casanova menu is described as rustic, Mediterranean inspired food, and the lunch menu features country-style dishes like a hearty winter stew with beans and kale, farinata (Italian chickpea pancake) or a ploughman’s lunch.
Lunch time is also a chance to get your hands on a sourdough pizza, with toppings like broccolini, anchovy, and chilli or potato, gorgonzola and rosemary. The pizzas are perfectly soft with a chewy, sour crust and really delicious toppings.
The cafe also opens on Friday evenings for pizza, snacks and pasta. The pasta is sourced from local business Braidwood Food Co.
Joe explained that while they could probably get more business if they opened more days a week, or for more evenings, they’ve made the call that living a well-balanced life is more important for this family-run business.
“We’ve worked in hospitality for many years and so we were really careful about avoiding burnout. We decided we wanted to do something that was sustainable for us.”
And their loyal customers don’t seem to mind. Friday night pizza at Casanova’s is fast becoming a tradition for locals, and would make the perfect dinner stop for any Canberrans heading down the coast after work.
Casanova’s is located at 68-70 Wallace Street, Braidwood, NSW.
They are open for breakfast and lunch from 8 am to 2 pm Wednesday to Saturday, and for dinner on Friday from 5 pm.
Follow Casanova’s on Facebook or visit their website.