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Acasa, in Sunnyside

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RedVelvet Aug 27, 2006 07:58 AM

It's a fairly new Romanian restaurant that opened on Skillman bet. 48th and 49th st. and I have been a few times since it opened.
The bad news is that it has mostly the regular Romanian restaurant fare: the usual appetizers (eggplant salad or caviar, whatever you want to call it, a salad a la russe, mashed white beans etc) and for entrees, other than the usual grilled meats and offal, schnitzel and fish, they have a bit of home-style dishes as cabbage with smoked hocks, white beans stew and an excellent fish in a vegetable stew that's called saramura. They also let you know if they have any specials.

The good news is that everything we tried was very good. When it first opened for the first 2 visits there was some lack of salt in some of the dishes but that's not something that can't be easily fixed. I'd rather have my food under salted than over salted.
This is what we tried and liked: the cabbage and beans dishes, the salads mentioned above - all excellent (I asked them to grill the bread a bit for them, but that's me), the tripe soup (again w/grilled bread), the white bean soup, the saramura (for which I want to go back soon), the Greek salad and some grilled sweetbreads on one ocasion. And of course, mici (sausage without casing, much like cepavici).

Overall, it's pretty good. Be forewarned that I noticed an announcement for live music on fridays and saturdays - the space is pretty small and I expect it to be quite noisy. Weekdays they only have a TV running on satellite Romanian tv.

Trivia: one of the co-owners and chef is the former grill cook from Romanian Garden, his name (Mitica) it's actually on the awning, written in tiny red letters in the left corner - Acasa means home and the restaurant's whole name is "at Mitica's Home"

I'd love to hear from others that have tried the place.

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  1. b
    babar ganesh RE: RedVelvet Sep 4, 2006 07:56 PM

    thanks for the review -- i have walked by and wondered about the place.

    1. Monkey Man Jake RE: RedVelvet Sep 5, 2006 01:34 PM

      I met a waiter/barman at an Upper East Side italian place called Sistina (we just stopped by for a drink) and he seemed inordinately informed on the subject of Grappa. He also, it turned out, was not Italian, but Romanian, and his favorite Romanian place to eat was Acasa. So there you go, kudos from hearsay.

      1. Brian S RE: RedVelvet Oct 13, 2006 11:48 PM

        Thanks to this, I went there this afternoon and had a delightful meal. There is a sign outside that says, in Romanian, eat like at your mom's house. But that's not true unless your mom's a great cook! I had pork stew. Pork tenderloin by some magic made succulent and tender... usually it's as appealing as chicken breast or tofu...simmered with tomatoes, mushrooms, bay leaf, sausage. Alongside, two perfectly shaped mounds of polenta, one topped with melted cheese, the other with a perfectly poached egg. All prepared gracefully and well, as if a talented graduate of a top cooking school were given a Romanian recipe. But the cooks could have passed for grandparents in a Romanian (or any other) village. The decor is modern, like a Greenwich Village bistro, but cleaner. And I discovered Skillman, which is a lovely street. I even saw toilet paper on sale for half Manhattan prices, so I lugged 20 rolls back to Manhattan. All in all a lovely afternoon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Brian S
          Brian S RE: Brian S Nov 30, 2007 02:04 PM

          I've been meaning to go back and yesterday, a sunny day a bit warmer than those we've been having, I made the lovely walk from the 7 train. It was as good as last year. I ordered the Ciolan cu fasole because the menu said it is a SPECIALITATEA CASEI What I got was worthy of being a house speciality: a pork chop that had been smoked, and tasted like lovely ham, with white beans stewed with a bit of tomato. So it was basically ham and beans, but a really good homemade version. It would have been at home on a farmer's table in Oklahoma. I walked along Skillman to 61 St. The same store still had the toilet paper on saie, but they'd run out.

          -----
          Acasa
          48-06 Skillman Ave, Queens, NY 11104

        2. r
          RedVelvet RE: RedVelvet Oct 14, 2006 02:00 PM

          Brian, I'm glad you had a good meal. Sounds like you had "tochitura" (toh'kee'too'ruh), that's my husband's favourite.

          We went last Monday and had very good tripe soup, "pastrama" (that's grilled mutton and traditional at harvest time) and the fish saramura. Oh, and the papanasi (deep fried doughnuts with sour cream and fruit preserves). I have a couple of pics but I don't know how to post them here.

          Skilmann is delightful - and 2 blocks down from Acasa are Quaint, Bliss and Romanian Garden, 2 blocks up Aubergine and La Marjolaine. Come again.

          1. d
            dagnabbit RE: RedVelvet Jan 13, 2007 12:48 PM

            Thanks all! A Romanian's word is good enough for me. Heading to Acasa this week. (That pork stew sounds great.)

            1. Brian S RE: RedVelvet Jan 31, 2007 09:56 AM

              And the Times has just given it a well-deserved good review, so don't expect an empty room.

              http://events.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/...

              1. r
                RedVelvet RE: RedVelvet Feb 1, 2007 01:37 PM

                Thank you for the link, Brian.
                Excellent, although I find Mr. Meehan a little to hung up on Mr. Golea's Transylvanian's heritage. :) The so called Transylvanian champagne is called "spritz" and it's a countrywide affair. Especially refreshing during the summer. But hey, if the Transylvanian reference helps getting people in, that's fine with me - this is one restaurant I really want to stay in the 'hood.

                And just because, I feel I have to say that "oltenesti" are delicious sausages that have nothing in common with hot dogs. They're thin and long (a foot or so) and at Acasa they're cut in 1-2 inches pieces that are cross-cut at the ends so they "flower" when lightly fried. Very pretty also.

                An add-on to my original post: it changed cooks (Mitica is no longer) just a short while ago and I have to say the food is even better. The mushrooms in white sauce are delicious, a nice addition to the menu. The apple strudel is to die for. I went on monday and left full and happy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RedVelvet
                  d
                  dagnabbit RE: RedVelvet Feb 11, 2007 07:34 AM

                  Red -- Great additions to Meehan's review. Tho I must disagree about the oltenesti -- they seemed a lot like really good weiners to me. :)

                2. Monkey Man Jake RE: RedVelvet Feb 3, 2007 07:30 PM

                  ooh... man, it was good! I went today for lunch (BEEEG LUNCH) of bean spread, caviar spread, eggplant spread, trout and cabbage and smoked pork. The smoked pork reminded me not a little of Polish Bigos. The trout was clean, smokey, and yummy. The spreads were enormous. And the spritz was flowin. All for 50 bux. Can't wait to go through the whole menu.

                  1. Jim Leff RE: RedVelvet Feb 11, 2007 06:29 PM

                    I remember when Romanian Garden was on Greenpoint Avenue and was killer great. I've been mourning it every since it deteriorated in its new locale, but these postings indicate that the spirit of the old place is back. I'm thrilled!

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                      RedVelvet RE: RedVelvet Feb 14, 2007 09:30 AM

                      Jim, I think that was called "Cornel's Place" at the time. When it moved to Skillman Ave. it became "Cornel's Garden" and after it changed hands it became "Romanian Garden". I remember fondly waiting on the sidewalk for a table at "Cornel's Place" at the time when he was handling the grill.

                      Anyway, Marian's "Acasa" is a bit different, and dare I say, better than any other Romanian restaurant in NYC at the moment.
                      Here are a few pics I took over the time - fish saramura, the hot platter (oltenesti, hot chicken wings and breaded cashkaval) and the simple polenta with eggs, cheese and sour cream. This is pure comfort food.

                       
                       
                       
                      1 Reply
                      1. re: RedVelvet
                        Jim Leff RE: RedVelvet Feb 14, 2007 12:48 PM

                        Yes, Cornel's Place. How does Acasa compare with it, both stylistically and qualitatively?

                      2. r
                        RedVelvet RE: RedVelvet Feb 15, 2007 06:21 PM

                        Cornel's Place was very (and I mean Very) casual - as I recall, no tablecloths, no frou-frou or otherwise decorations. It was a place where you'd go eat and be on your merry way. The best they had foodwise was the grill. As at the time this was pretty much the only Romanian restaurant in the city and we were happy with what it was.

                        Now Cornel has Harmony II (still haven't been to the new location, so I have no opinion - Harmony I I disliked just enough to become a regular at RGarden). There's Transylvania (never been as I've been told repeatedly that one doesn't go there for the food but for entertainment), there's Casa Romana (have been many times and food is not its forte yet again) and then Romanian Garden who, in my opinion, is the closest qualitywise to Acasa. However, given that the kitchen keeps adding to the menu and has interesting and well executed specials all the time, "Acasa" wins by a landslide. Stylistically (my personal opinion and not a huge factor in deciding which place I like better), Romanian Garden fake flower trellis have become very boring very quickly. Service has been also spotty the last few times I've been there.

                        Acasa, although still casual, is more inviting to spend a couple of hours enjoying the company, over a spritz or a (turkish) coffee and papanasi. The dishes are more diverse and in many instances very well done (and I mean home-style cooking, as well as some of the grilled meats). I love how the owner is always there and keeps a hawk-eye on everything that's going on in the room. If you get to talk to him, his passion for food makes you like him instantly. :)

                        As a side note, at the moment I'm totally inlove with their "zacusca" (avjar type spread) that I swear it's the best I've ever had (and zacusca is one of those dishes that one's mother always makes the best).

                        So here you go, this is my overall opinion.

                        I'd love to hear yours if you decide to give Acasa a try. I hear they're planning on making pan fried fish with garlic sauce :) ("mujdei", a garlic paste sometimes diluted with a bit of water - romanians pour it over fish, whole deep-fried chicken or even fries)

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: RedVelvet
                          Jim Leff RE: RedVelvet Feb 16, 2007 06:13 AM

                          There is or was a romanian on the south side of queens blvd at around 53rd street - just east of where the 7 train twists onto Queens Blvd. I tried it ages ago, and it was quite good, but nobody ever seems to talk about it.

                          1. re: Jim Leff
                            plum RE: Jim Leff Feb 16, 2007 06:47 AM

                            The Romanian restaurant might be gone? There is a restaurant where you describe, next to a strip joint called Honey's and a janitor supply company and a very new, very ugly mirrored glass office minitower. But I assumed it was Yugoslav because it's called something like "Uncle Tito's", and I just noticed it a month or two ago.

                            1. re: plum
                              Jim Leff RE: plum Feb 16, 2007 12:34 PM

                              Pity, sounds gone. got zero buzz. nice people, mom cooking, relaxing outdoor terrace. I hate it when good places wither from lack of interest. It's one reason I created this site.

                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                Brian S RE: Jim Leff Feb 16, 2007 01:32 PM

                                Well look at Acasa. RedVelvet wrote about it, I and lots of other people went and found it amazing, and said so, and a few months later the Times "discovered" it and gave it a great review.

                              2. re: plum
                                timmernyc RE: plum Feb 24, 2007 06:02 AM

                                Uncle Tito's is a phillipine restaurant. Haven't tried it yet but am keeping my fingers crossed. It's a pretty lousy location, unless you're a regular at the Knights of Columbus or you enjoy the ecdysiasts at Honeys.

                          2. r
                            RedVelvet RE: RedVelvet Feb 16, 2007 05:51 PM

                            Oh, that was the very short lived Cafe Europa. I think I wrote about it at the time but no one seemed to notice. It was ok until it changed hands, about a year from opening. The terrace was really nice.

                            Now is indeed called something Tito's and it's phillipinese cuisine.

                            1. r
                              RedVelvet RE: RedVelvet Feb 22, 2007 10:32 AM

                              Look what I found:
                              http://acasany.com/index.php

                              I had no ideea they're closed on tuesdays

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: RedVelvet
                                LoDega RE: RedVelvet Feb 22, 2007 12:12 PM

                                I had no idea I'd need reservations! This place has become very, very popular!

                              2. s
                                slep RE: RedVelvet Feb 23, 2007 06:24 AM

                                The place next to Honey's is called Tito Rad's. Such an odd collection of establisments on that block. Haven't tried it yet, has anyone been there?

                                I must say Acasa is great. I had dinner there recently and it lived up to the praise.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: slep
                                  r
                                  RedVelvet RE: slep Feb 24, 2007 02:47 PM

                                  What did you have at Acasa, slep? please tell all

                                  Yes, Tito Rad's is the name, I haven't been, not even to pick up a menu.

                                2. h
                                  happypair RE: RedVelvet Mar 1, 2007 06:28 AM

                                  We tried Acasa last Friday and found the mititei just OK, the fasoli too thin and the mamaliga (polenta) too thin. When comments were made to the owner, he just made excuses for each. We'll return to Romanian Garden or Harmony for good Romanian food.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: happypair
                                    Jim Leff RE: happypair Mar 1, 2007 06:58 AM

                                    I was there a few days ago. I had stuffed cabbage, mamaliga (polenta), and papanasi (sauced donuts). All better than the usual in Sunnyside, but only a faint echo of the quality of the old Cornel's Garden on Greenpoint Ave. Nothing really had any jolts of soul, though there was nothing "wrong". I found it hard to finish anything.

                                    1. re: Jim Leff
                                      r
                                      RedVelvet RE: Jim Leff Mar 4, 2007 11:00 AM

                                      Well, maybe a visit to Harmony II would be in order for comparison reasons.

                                      I've been to Acasa twice last week and I had the rabbit in wine sauce on monday (a whole rabbit, fall-off-the bone tender) and shared mici (indeed ok) and the breaded brains (very good) with a friend on friday. It seems there's never enough room for papanasi and I've been craving them for a while now.
                                      Friday at around 9 pm we had to wait for a table, it was really busy.

                                    2. re: happypair
                                      r
                                      RedVelvet RE: happypair Mar 4, 2007 11:20 AM

                                      Excuses should be in order as it was unusual. I've never had thin polenta at Acasa, theirs is usually the medium viscosity.
                                      I should add that mamaliga is like the italian polenta but not really. It's viscosity varies by region and many times by the dish it's supposed to be served with. There's hard polenta that you can slice (put butter and cheese in the middle and form a ball around it - it's called bulz), there's the more common medium polenta that works for a lot of dishes, and the thin polenta that can be soup-like. My grandmother used to make a sweetened one, delish as a snack.

                                    3. s
                                      Sweatshirt Guy RE: RedVelvet Mar 4, 2007 06:34 AM

                                      What are the prices like? Is it worth a 45 minute subway ride?

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Sweatshirt Guy
                                        v
                                        Val55 RE: Sweatshirt Guy Mar 4, 2007 07:01 AM

                                        Pretty darn reasonable. I went with a friend, we each had an appetizer, an entree and shared the fried donut dessert and shared a bottle of wine. Before tip, the bill was $52! The service was very friendly. I wasn't that crazy about my stuffed cabbage, but I was kind of expecting beef and not pork. Everything else was very tasty.

                                        1. re: Sweatshirt Guy
                                          Brian S RE: Sweatshirt Guy Mar 4, 2007 08:26 AM

                                          When I went last year, I had a filling entree for $10. I think it's worth the ride, not just for the food but because, on a nice sunny day, you get to walk along Skillman, a very pleasant tree-lined street. Then you can walk to Queens Boulevard and check out some of those Irish bars you were asking about.

                                          1. re: Brian S
                                            s
                                            Sweatshirt Guy RE: Brian S Mar 4, 2007 10:38 AM

                                            Thank you Brian. I will be doing just that one night this week!

                                            1. re: Sweatshirt Guy
                                              welle RE: Sweatshirt Guy Mar 5, 2007 07:03 AM

                                              Make sure you go on a weekday (if coming from Manhattan) - 7 train is not running between Manhattan and 61st street in Woodside thru March.

                                          2. re: Sweatshirt Guy
                                            r
                                            RedVelvet RE: Sweatshirt Guy Mar 4, 2007 11:01 AM

                                            There's a website I posted a few days ago, you can check out the prices - acasany.com

                                          3. f
                                            franprix RE: RedVelvet Jun 12, 2007 11:15 PM

                                            Man, my boyfriend and I were wondering why the prices shot up...and why the dining room was so full. Mititei used to be $8 when we went, now it's $10.99? We used to spend about $35 at Acasa, but not anymore. We're gonna give Romanian Garden a try. Are their prices pretty decent? Any other good Romanian cooking out there?

                                            By the way, we also noticed that the mititei hasn't been as good as it used to be, maybe because of the change of chefs? Does anyone know if their mititei is homemade or bought? I've been looking for a good place to buy them to cook at home. I did a search online for Romanian meat shops and found one near Steinway, but their mititei was not that great. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated :)

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: franprix
                                              j
                                              JFores RE: franprix Nov 30, 2007 04:25 PM

                                              A few blocks away the "European Meat Market" or something along those lines between Queens Blvd and Skillman is Romanian owned and operated. It makes its own sausage.

                                              1. re: JFores
                                                Linda RE: JFores Dec 1, 2007 07:46 AM

                                                is that the one on 43rd st b/t queens blvd and 47th ave? it looks interesting. been meaning to stop in there.

                                                there's a small, european market that sells food items around the corner as well, it's called like european market or something also. it's on queens blvd b/t 42nd & 43rd st, i believe. they had interesting looking rugalach in the front and some nice european sodas and such.

                                                1. re: Linda
                                                  j
                                                  JFores RE: Linda Dec 2, 2007 07:50 AM

                                                  Yep. It is. There's a very good Romanian markets on 47th Ave as well. Massis. They carry all my Romanian items that I occasionally want.

                                                  1. re: JFores
                                                    r
                                                    RedVelvet RE: JFores Dec 2, 2007 03:15 PM

                                                    Small correction - it's 43rd Ave. and not 47th (which is on the south side of Queens Blvd.)
                                                    Euro market is the one on Queens Blvd. (hungarian)
                                                    Sunnyside Meat Market on 43rd St. corner w.43rd Ave. - they make their own sausages and many of the cold cuts they sell (romanian-serbian)
                                                    Massis 43rd Ave. corner w. 43rd St. (try the sweet bread - "cozonac" if they have it) (romanian-armenian)

                                                    1. re: RedVelvet
                                                      j
                                                      JFores RE: RedVelvet Dec 2, 2007 03:44 PM

                                                      Yeah, Sunnyside Meat Market. They speak Romanian over the counter and I've ordered in it. Didn't know it was Serbian at all. Euro Market is Hungarian and it's VERY overpriced. My God. Massis is great.

                                              2. re: franprix
                                                l
                                                L.E. RE: franprix May 19, 2010 04:38 PM

                                                try MUNCAN FOOD CORP on broadway bet 43 and 44 street...they have the absolute best products...all are home made.

                                              3. r
                                                rleeb RE: RedVelvet Apr 5, 2009 09:28 AM

                                                Tried to go here last night - it has vanished. La reveder, Acasa.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: rleeb
                                                  r
                                                  RedVelvet RE: rleeb Apr 5, 2009 04:21 PM

                                                  Yes, it closed last month. I, for one, will miss it. But I'm happy that Romanian Garden is still around and hopefully going strong.

                                                  There's another Romanian restaurant that opened right before Christmas on 40th St I think, Bucharest, but I haven't tried it yet.

                                                  1. re: RedVelvet
                                                    m
                                                    Mike V RE: RedVelvet Apr 6, 2009 09:24 AM

                                                    I visited Acasa just once and liked it. I've been to Romanian Gardens several times which I also like. Thanks for the info regarding Bucharest. I just looked at the website and the place is quite modern and huge seating 300 with a Bar. Also nearby is Casa Romana at 39th & QB which I just became aware of. I plan to visit both since I really like this type of cuisine. What I like about Romanian Gardens is the Old World Charm and low prices.

                                                    1. re: Mike V
                                                      r
                                                      RedVelvet RE: Mike V Apr 6, 2009 02:36 PM

                                                      And, may I add, pretty consistent :D
                                                      If you try Bucharest I'd love to read a review.

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