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House of Dreams

House of Dreams

Imagine, for a moment, spending years dreaming about your own business. Imagine having worked in kitchens across the globe and thinking to yourself, “One day, I will create my own place.” Imagine taking the dream and turning it into reality. Casa Nori is the dream.

Everything, every detail, is his. The interior, the style, the décor, the design and location of the kitchen, not just the furniture but even how it is placed, and, most importantly, the food. Creating a new menu, creating the recipes and putting in place the systems that ensure each dish is just how he wants it, it is his creation, his vision. He is Italian chef Andrea Nori, and after 10 years in Ukraine, now his home, Casa Nori, is open to you.

Appearances Can be Deceiving

The arrival at Casa Nori is unpretentious, as it sits on the corner of a small side street down in Podil. The summer terrace, now empty as the winter season has come upon us, is still outside. The floor to ceiling windows show an interior of long tables with high bar stools, and very little activity, which is a concern. An empty restaurant is always a bad sign. But guided up the beautifully smooth cement staircase, I realise my first impression is wrong, because upstairs is where it’s at.

Climbing the stairs the familiar atmosphere of an Italian eatery becomes apparent – the sound of chatter, clinking glasses, and laughter takes over the senses. Until sound gets trumped by vision. On first entrance to the dining floor I am stopped in my tracks by the need to stand back and admire the kitchen. The chefs’ working space is the literal centerpiece of this room – it is the most open and accessible kitchen I have ever seen in any restaurant.

A few tables hug its side, while larger tables fit snug against the walls of the room. We choose one as close to the action as it gets – a table for two with a show to entertain. Sunk into the chairs we are spoiled for choice by a great menu. Deciding what to limit ourselves to will be hard.


Food as an Artform

Cocktails ordered, we munch on bread sticks and watch in silent reverence the dishes being put together. Ingredients are added with precision; the details clearly having been laid out by Nori. It is a well organised kitchen indeed as the chefs take time to test and sample dishes before they are plated.

The service is attentive, but unobtrusive. Our waitress Yuilia is knowledgeable and insists that all of her colleagues have tried everything on the menu – the fresh Italian cold cuts and steak tartar are polished off in no time and there is ample time to let them settle before the main courses are served. I’m sticking to meat, my date switches to seafood.

What’s missing from this restaurant review so far? A description of the food itself. The one simple reason is that you need to go and experience it yourself. I’ll say this though, Kyiv’s restaurant scene today boasts some truly world class eating options, and this is one of them. The quality of this restaurant is on a par with anything you might find in some of Europe’s great capital cities. Chatting with Andrea Nori at the end of the evening he tells me his kitchen colleagues are his children, with that kind of attitude, you can see why he calls his restaurant “casa”.



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