Calamari place at 86th st and 3rd ave in Bay Ridge
Modern glassy place on the corner. "Casa Calamari" or something. I got a decent vibe, but they were full to the rafters Tuesday night, which really impressed me.
Has anyone tried it?
BTW, fwiw, I keep being underwhelmed by the stuff at Paneantico Bakery, a few blocks south on 3rd ave, though I know it's a favorite of some of you.
The squid's really fresh at the 86th & 3rd CC, but greasy. In a good way, but copious. Everything else, just classic red-sauce stuff. Nice neighborhood vibe, exactly the kind of place we used to have in lower Manhattan and Carroll Gardens, except the look is 1980s, not 1930s.
My understanding from people who work at the above place is that the two CCs are feuding, one of those classic Italian family food things like the Manganaros on the West Side and Patsy's and Ray's.
As enchanting as that neon squid signage is, my friends that live nearby have warned me off Casa Calamari (and wisked us up to Tanoreen, so they're reliable food barometers.) I do believe it's is a minichain, with Bath Beach.
The gem in the 92nd St/3rd Ave strip is Piazza Mercado, also owned by Royal Crown. Salumi and Italian prepared foods (savories) and clamshells of figs grilled in a pizza oven, stuffed with almonds. Heat 'em up a little when you get home and swoon. THAT'S dessert!
Casa Calamari is a great place...if you like authentic outer borough places. No frills. Friendly service. Very neighborhoody. I wouldn't say it's the best I've ever had. But I remember getting some eggplant there that was really good. I believe it was in roll format. And I went again the following week to see if it was a fluke and it was still excellent.
However, I believe this location has nothing to do with the Bath Beach location.
The breads and sandwiches are great at Paneantico-- the pastries and cookies, IMO, are only so-so. I'm actually not sure of a good pastry shop in the area, I usually hit Villabate on 18th Avenue for Italian pastries and the Little Cupcake Bakeshop for cupcakes (obvs) or banana pudding. I understand the cakes there are good too, although I haven't had them.
I dont think the paneantico (royal crown bakery) sweets are particularly outstanding. Some of the traditional cookies are fine, those eggwhite-based sticks with hazenuts in them, amaretti, etc) but the fancier stuff is unimpressive. Royal Crowns breads are their strength, not their pastry.
they do make a decent italian style cornetto (croissant) which I imagine would be worth having in the morning.
re: jen kalb
Definitely would stick with the 14th Avenue Royal Crown pairing - the bakery at 65th Street, which has IMO the top cheese danish this side of Andre's Hungarian...and the RC MAGNIFICO (near 63rd Street) for classic panini, calamari and veggies. The Bay Ridge location somehow doesn't have the vibe.
Yes, Casa Calamari. There is another outpost in Bath Beach. Haven't been there for a while, actually. In the past it was a good place to go for decent comfort food, but nothing mindblowing. It's true that that space gives off a really nice neighborhoody vibe, though - that's always what I liked best about it.
But, the capacity crowd suggests they might be doing something differently these days. I'll have to give it another look.
It's true that Paneantico is uneven. The best thing we've found there is the cookies that are dipped in chocolate and rolled in pistachios. Nice sugary donuts, big muffins... But I've had plenty of other things there that were just blah.