Mi Casa es Su Casa…
On a small corner in the southern bit of the West Village, surrounded by pricey-looking townhouses and picturesque street lamps, sits Casa, a Brazilian jewelbox. Casa is impossibly charming, a corner restaurant painted white with big glass paned windows looking out onto the street. A small golden lantern hangs outside the door, illuminating the menu.
The restaurant itself can’t be more than 12 tables, stuffed together in a cozy space. Near the cramped entrance, is a 4-person bar. The small size makes its virtually impossible to get a reservation during prime dining times, however, if you take a risk and stop by, you might get lucky with a cancellation. Casa keeps it simple, decor-wise, with white walls and sparse primitive art from a Brazilian fishing village. Casa exudes relaxed cool – feel no need to dress up here or to put on pretensions; from the customers to the wait staff, everyone here is laidback.
The owners of Casa wanted to present South American food in its true essence – Jupira Lee, Casa’s owner says “I wanted to show a Brazil that is different from Carmen Miranda and parrots and bananas.” And thus, the food is traditional South American/Brazilian, heavily focused on meat dishes. Savory and hearty, the menu items feature lots of black beans, bacon, corn, and cheese. The little basket of farm cheese breads is perfect to share and to start of the meal – the small slices conjure images of dressed up Domino’s cheesy bread – they are similarly warm and gooey yet far fresher and tastier than their fast food cousins. The ‘pratos principais’ section is bursting out the seams with luscious meat dishes: filet mignon with white rice, yucca sticks, and garlic; pan-fried steak with white rice, onions, beans, farofa and fries; and Brazilian prime cut steak with broccoli rice, farofa, and country vinaigrette sauce.
The food is Brazilian comfort food – filling, tasty, well-seasoned, and uncomplicated. A selection of 12 side dishes are there to accompany the already enormous helpings, and despite the ridiculous amount of food, they are so tasty, you just must try them!
Casa is homey, charming, romantic, and personal. It’s small size makes it feel as though you’re in someone’s home kitchen and especially privy to the wondrous comfort food that comes trickling out. Don’t expect the food to jump through gastronomic hoops or to be presented as though it should be on display at MoMA. Casa is not fancy schmancy or formal – it is at it’s core a neighborhood joint with delicious and simple dishes.