Cafe Casa Berkeley?
Drove by the place on Sacramento ST-where El Nopel was. Any thoughts. ?
I'd be interested to hear, too. We almost went yesterday (there's a Restaurant.com offer, which by the way, the local selection of Restaurant.com participating restaurants grew what seems like exponentially in the past few months).
After one visit to Cafe Casa with DW and DD, we're ready for more. As my wife said on the way out the door, we'll definitely be back. One visit is not enough for any review. And this place is not cut from the usual new restaurant mold, so its even more true in this case. But in the absence of any other reviews, here's a quick report.
The place is funky. From the curb there is a very low budget vibe that had me wondering. What's up with this place? Turns out they moved in where a Mexican restaurant had been and had some continuity with the menu and clientele. We're told the menu has been evolving but they feel they're hitting their stride. So different from the hot-new-thing type of restaurant that comes laden with investors, designers, pedigreed chefs, web buzz, and a carefully crafted packaging of some flavor-du-jour. My impression is this is a labor of love that showcases the owner's very personal tastes in music, wine, and food. And what we sampled was all good.
We started with crab cakes, on the daily special menu. Great flavor. Serious chunks of crab meat in a rich, flavorful patty, plated with a tangy red pepper sauce. I'm guessing the tang comes from house made wine vinegar that is featured in their vinaigrettes. They have a very large selection of wines by the glass. Reasonable prices. How can they pull this off and how can they keep so many bottles open and on hand? I had two glasses and both were very nice. Not oxidized or tired at all as far as I could tell. The wine selection is a big draw for this place. Our mains were a house salad with shrimp, angel hair pasta with pesto, and lasagna. Nothing the slightest bit over the top or artsy. Just simple, well prepared, delicious food. My lasagna was what I'd hope to make myself. Light, thin layers of fresh pasta, nice tomato sauce, not too cheesy, just enough of two kinds of sausage... closer to comfort food than gourmet. Same with the obviously fresh pesto on fresh made angel hair. We didn't order any deserts, though the panna cotta was calling to me.
I'd love to get other people's impressions of this place. It's not for everyone, but on this night it worked out great for us.
Driving by today, I noticed that the name has been changed to Casa Vino. The menu, according to their website, is still all over the place -- with dolmas, pasta, wraps, nachos, pizza, etc.. It seems like such a large, varied menu could be a problem. They do offer 1/2 priced wine by the glass Tues-Sat 5-6 and parking is easy. Has anyone been lately?