Since 2011, Pasquale and Linda Cardamuros have had a front row seat to the changes that have taken place in downtown Alpharetta, as the options for shopping and dining have multiplied.
And as the owners of La Casa Italian Grill, prominently placed at the epicenter of change on Old Roswell Street, they also play an active role in Alpharetta’s emergence as a dining and entertainment destination.
“We have loyal customers who feel at home at La Casa, but we see new people moving into the area daily,” said Pasquale Cardamuros. “Alpharetta has become a little city and we are proud to have become part of the history.”
While he keeps a mainstay of customer favorites on the menu, Cardamuros also strives to keep the menu fresh and evolving at La Casa. Each year he returns to Italy, his native country, and comes back with new ideas, recipes and trends.
“We change our menu every season to offer the seasonal and freshest ingredients available,” he added. “The changes over the years [have included] grain-free chicken, gluten-free meals and an increase in seafood specials.”
But it’s the mainstays on the menu that keep customers returning, and the “must try” items for the first time diner. These include the chicken radiatori, mare chiaro (fresh seafood) and spaghetti squash, all of which would cause a customer revolt if ever removed from the menu, laughs Cardamuros.
“Every meal at La Casa is prepared to order, and the sauces and breads are made daily,” he said. “We aim to serve farm to table as much as possible ... and the seafood is all fresh, as are the fresh local vegetables.”
Cardamuros immigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy, 35 years ago, bringing with him a treasure trove of traditional recipes from his family which provided the basis for a career in the restaurant business.
He met Linda, a native of New York, and eventually settled in Alpharetta where their two children were born and raised. She is actively involved in the business side of La Casa, allowing Pasquale to focus on the operation.
La Casa Italian Grill is Pasquale’s seventh restaurant venture in the Atlanta area, and the culmination of a lifetime spent in dining rooms and kitchens.
“I have been in the restaurant business from the age of 7 when I was a bus boy in my dad’s restaurant,” said Cardamuros. “[When I moved to Atlanta] I started in the pizza business in local malls and have owned my own restaurants for the last 25 years.”
At La Casa, the full range of Cardamuro’s skills come into play, from the selection of each menu ingredient to the finished dinner and the entire customer experience.
“New ideas and trends are created between myself and my chef. We discuss weekly new specials with fresh seafood and available farm fresh vegetables. I discuss with my family in Naples the latest trends and the newest ideas and try to bring to La Casa,” he explained.
Guests at La Casa will likely be greeted by Cardamuros personally as they enter the restaurant; an important part of ensuring each guest is treated as such.
“We are not a chain or franchise--we are family owned,” he emphasized. “Our goal is to treat every customer like family, and give them the opportunity to have a taste of Italy in our beautiful historic house that we transformed into a cozy restaurant.”
The dining room is decorated with hand-painted tiles that Cardamuros brought over from Italy, along with family antiques and treasures designed to give the space an authentic feel. Guests can dine inside, or on the outdoor heated patio which looks out onto downtown Alpharetta.
As for the many changes in downtown Alpharetta over the past several years, he welcomes the changes but hopes the area can also maintain a small-town feel with a walkable atmosphere.
“We would love to see a play area, green area with fountains, children’s area, and trees,” said Cardamuros. “We feel this area should be kept open and airy so people with families will have a walking area and it can become a source for art festivals and other downtown festivities.” ■