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Restaurants & Bars 23

8/25/11 Il Casale: Terrific Italian in Belmont

opinionatedchef | Aug 26, 201112:14 AM

It is always a treat to have a dinner turn out better than you thought it might, and that was our delightful experience tonight at a special B’day dinner at Il Casale. Thurs. night 8:30PM and the place was packed and bustling. Lucky for us, noise continued to diminish through the evening, as earlier guests departed.

While i did a double take after this sentence formed in my head, it is true that we did not have one thing that was less than excellent. I hadn’t realized it before, but the head chef used to be that talented head chef at Pignoli. Small tastes were all winners: Small Pork Meatballs were moist and soft and full flavored; Arancini, the arborio rice cooked in porcini broth and tomato, were the most full flavored I have ever had, easily meriting ‘extraordinary’ over the v. good ones at La Morra, the Independent and 62 On Wharf. A Special crudo- tuna crostini with avocado puree and evoo, was sublime and very generously portioned. Pasta carbonara and bolognese acted as starch sides to our entrees, Seared Scallops over a bed of white bean puree and braised kale ,and Veal Saltimboca. All plates were very robustly flavored and seasoned, and there was never a need to reach for the salt. A welcome take on sauteed spinach- this one with mascarpone, lemon and parm- was utterly unctuous. Table bread was a really superb potato based rustic loaf with a thick dark crust and dense moist interior. Gelati, cinnamon and espresso- made a perfect ending (I guess there was one thing less than excellent- but it was a lagnappe- tiramisu> pretty but lacking on the coffee front.)

Overall, the tiny bites were the highlight, robustly flavored, perfectly prepared, generous and well priced. Of the 2 entrees, the scallops plate was complete and generous but the veal plate held only the veal, and the addition of pasta and vegetable sides- raised the plate cost rather high imo. I know this practice is found in many restnts but i personally prefer an entree plate to have starch and veg. on it.

Service was very professional and gracious.Located in a historic and handsome brick former fire station, the room is a treat- a dark high ceilinged space with golden ceiling lamps and walls of banquettes. We really enjoyed ourselves and it’s easy to see why this place is so booked.

La Morra
48 Boylston Street, Brookline, MA 02445

il Casale
50 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA 02478

Sixty2 on Wharf
62 Wharf Street, Salem, MA 01970

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