Review: Italian with a view at Casa Bella in Umhlanga

Casa Bella has nabbed prime position at the upper level of the shiny new Pearl Walk shopping centre in Umhlanga Rocks. Serving wood-fired pizza, pastas and grills, the new Italian restaurant (which is part of a small franchise) has been buzzing with locals and holiday-makers since its opening. Eat Out critic Nikita Buxton grabs a table.

Fast facts

Parking: There is ample underground parking in the Pearl Walk shopping centre
Best for: Easy-going Italian with friends or family
Price: R110 for a main
Star ratings: Food 4, service 3, ambience 3


No-fuss Italian fare is what you’ll get at Casa Bella. The menu is extensive and features familiar favourites like antipasti, wood-fired pizzas, homemade pastas and hearty grills with Mediterranean flavours.

Kick off on the starters with caution, as the dishes can be rather generous in size. If you’re with a big group, the antipasti platter with salami, Parma ham, gorgonzola, camembert, cherry tomatoes and zucchini fries is a good, social choice. But it’s the fresh Caprese salad that makes a perfect start to a carb-heavy feast: generous slices of creamy mozzarella are nestled between tomato and fresh basil. It’s light and moreish and goes well with a glass of crisp rosé.

A photo posted by Anru-Lee Pelser (@anrupelser) on

To follow, pizza is a top choice. The decent-sized bases are topped with the usual suspects and cooked off in the wood-fired oven to leave a crisp, slightly charred crust. The Pisa (pancetta, Danish feta and avo) is a winner, as is the classic authentic margherita with buffalo mozzarella and sweet cherry tomatoes. If you’re a pasta lover, look forward to bowls steaming with freshly made durum-wheat fettuccine, penne, spaghetti and ravioli. For a bit of indulgence, the silken spinach-and-ricotta ravioli is satisfyingly served in an egg-rich creamy sauce. Alternatively, try the penne Siciliana, with anchovy, olives and capers in a Napoletana sauce.

A photo posted by Nishal Pema (@nishalpema) on

If you can manage dessert, the tiramisu will please, as will the intriguing-sounding cheesecake with ricotta and limoncello liqueur.


The wine list is filled with familiar labels and has some good options by the glass. Platter ratings, descriptions and wine-pairing notes are a good touch.


Eager but nervous and a bit haphazard. (The mains were served while a starter was still on the table.) Perhaps after time and training, things will run a bit smoother.


While the restaurant is at first glance welcoming with its wooden accents, modern touches and smiling staff, the outdoor terrace could do with a bit of a sweep when we visit. But the blue ocean view and sea breeze somewhat makes up for it.


Book a table inside and watch your pasta being made with the imported Italian pasta machine.

Have you been for an Italian feast at Casa Bella in new Pearl Walk shopping centre in Umhlanga Rocks? Tell us about it in a review, and we’ll pledge a meal to a hungry child through Stop Hunger Now SA. Write a review now.

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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