The last time we were at Il Casale was back in December 2010 which seems like ages ago. We recently went about a week ago and decided to take my in-laws there as a “thank you” gesture for some work they did in and around our house. (That’s right ladies and gents, thanks to my father-in-law, all the doors in our hallway now match!) We lucked out because the restaurant is now open on Mondays, and I managed to get a 7:15 pm reservation. We got there a little earlier and they were able to seat us anyway (I wonder if my big prego belly helped with that).
We started with a couple of “Sfizi” – small antipasti plates – to share as appetizers. We had the [a] carne (traditional meatballs); [b] burrata (buttery “mozzarella” from Apulia, Sicilian oregano, pistachios); [c] arancini (porcini risotto cakes, scamorza, spicy tomato sugo); and [d] calamaretti (fried calamari, crispy lemon wheel). I think the burrata was the table favorite. The calamari was okay (I was craving calamari but maybe in the future I wouldn’t get it again – it was good but nothing exciting), but the fried lemon wedges that came with it were delicious.
Another neat thing about Monday nights is that you can order a bottle of their reserve list wines for 50% off. We decided to order a bottle of the Malabaila di Canale wine since it would only be a couple of dollars more than the one we would’ve ordered on the regular list. The waitress was kind enough to just pour me a little bit so I could taste it too, and it was a very nice wine – not very strong or acidic, with a nice mellow flavor that went well with the food. Seeing that our table emptied the bottle, I think my fellow diners that night would agree.
I like how you can order the appetizer portion size or a full regular size of their pasta dishes, because after all the sfizi we tried I only had room for the appetizer size of pasta – and even that turned out to be a lot because of the richness of the dish. I had the chitarra alla carbonara which was made with classic Roman pasta, guanciale, soft onions, and gently cooked egg which was delicious and filling. Other dishes that grazed our table were the tagliatelle with the traditional meat sauce “alla Bolognese”; butternut squash ravioli in a sage-brown butter sauce, crumbled amaretti, grana; and the gnocchi in a Bolognese sauce instead of the basil-pistachio pesto sauce.
And although everyone grunted at my suggestion of getting dessert, we made this plate of frittelle (Venetian style fried dough) disappear. They have a nice puffy texture and weren’t overly sweet, unless of course you dumped some of the chocolate sauce on it. A nice way to end a delicious evening.
50 Leonard Street