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Restaurants & Bars

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

opinionatedchef | Aug 26, 201112:14 AM     23

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.

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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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