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  • “It’s a classic osteria”, my Italian friend said. The waiter had just talked us through our options for the evening. There’s no menu at Casa Mia; a limited selection is verbally offered. This would be logical if the dishes changed regularly, but my friend has ordered the same porcini tagliatelle and tiramisu three weeks in a row. (It says a lot that he’s visited three weeks in a row, though.)

    It’s an osteria in set-up, too. Everything feels unofficial, from the hidden, unmarked entrance to the mismatched furniture. It’s like the owners decided to start flogging homemade pasta out of the Donghu Hotel’s storage shed.

    The food quality is as haphazard as everything else. The smokey and tender octopus appetiser (98rmb) was one of the only octopi I’ve ever really enjoyed eating, and the burrata (with superfluous prosciutto; 178rmb), was actually burrata instead of just sliced mozzarella.

    Next: the pasta (from 88 to 98rmb). The flavours are good, and I’d recommend the lasagne, but it all felt frustratingly limp. Our table also ordered three veals (alla Milanese; 260rmb), but we were told that we could only have one. They gave us several different reasons for this, none of which seemed logical. One friend switched to fish instead (140rmb for a grilled fillet) and the other gave up hope of a main.

    Dessert was inoffensive: my panna cotta was topped with some lovely poached cherries, but was disappointingly un-vanilla-y. There were some other options too: a chocolate affogato, for example, and a ubiquitous tiramisu (all priced around 48rmb). For four people, with a bottle of wine, we paid 1752rmb.

    There’s something charming about Casa Mia. It’s worth a visit or two, and it’d make a lovely local if you live in the area. You won’t have an orderly evening, but there’s character in the chaos.

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.