How is it possible that we’ve had a travel blog for more than one hot second and not already featured our favorite restaurant in Malawi? It’s probably because we just love it so much, I’m not sure where to start!
It took us a long time after moving to Zomba before we visited Casa Rossa. With me (Stacy Leigh) being gluten and dairy free, most Italian food falls outside of those restrictions, so we didn’t figure there was anything there for me. Finally a friend let me know that we were very wrong! They have several options that are naturally gluten and dairy free, like the filetto all’aceto balsamico (3 little round steaks wrapped in bacon and served with fries), and they also have gluten free pastas that they can use for many of the pasta dishes. They also make a delicious dairy-free cream sauce, so those of us who are dairy-free don’t have to stick to tomato sauces.
While the gluten free pastas are bought premade, all of their regular pasta is painstakingly handmade right there in the restaurant. Josh loves sampling the many different pasta options, but often comes back to his favorite, the tortelloni. Check out the menu here.
When they added authentically Italian Neapolitan pizza to their menu, I got to be their guinea pig as they experimented with getting a gluten free crust just right. Just note that you have to preorder your gluten free pizza crust at least 24 hours in advance. There are a lot of options for toppings, and we’ve been disappointed with exactly zero of the ones we’ve tried. You can see the pizza menu here.
And when you do find yourself at Casa Rossa, make sure you leave room for one of their incredible ice creams or sorbets, all of which are made in-house from scratch. The sorbets are a delicious dairy-free dessert option, and they can be served in a waffle cone or glass bowl.
For most of the year, the best seating is at one of the tables on the large wraparound porch (or khonde as they’re called in Malawi). But in the cooler months it’s a special treat to cozy up next to the fire in the small dining room with some hot coffee or tea.
Lastly, there’s one part of Casa Rossa that we’ve seen, but not personally experienced: the lodge. In the house there are 3 guest rooms, each with a private bathroom. We’ve had friends from out of town who have stayed there, and they say the rooms are not extravagant, but clean and comfortable. There is also a campsite nearby with electric hookups, and everyone who stays gets breakfast included with their stay. For more information about staying there, visit their website.
If you’re an animal lover, they have a few cats and two dogs that protect the property from both mice and men. The dogs are only let out at night, but the cats roam freely and you’re likely to see the ginger ones frolicking or the old tortishell napping. If you have any animal allergies, just know that they keep the rooms closed, but the cats do often sleep in the dining chairs (which I personally adore), so if it’s a serious cat allergy you may want to ask for a fresh chair pad (or ask them to remove the pad) before you sit down.
As you can tell, we adore Casa Rossa, Mark and Sylvia, and Cali, the old tortishell cat. We love the delicious food, being greeted as friends as we hike up the tall stairs to the khonde (there is a side entrance for guests with mobility issues, by the way), and that the staff have named my favorite dish (made gluten and dairy free, of course) after me because I order it so often. We highly recommend checking out Casa Rossa when you are in Zomba, either for a meal, coffee and ice cream, or an overnight stay.