Restaurants & Bars

Casa Brusco in Eastchester, 5/08

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Casa Brusco in Eastchester, 5/08

vvvindaloo | May 15, 2008 09:07 PM

A group of us dined at Casa Brusco several nights ago. The food was good, overall. I wish I could say that I loved it, but I didn't. Allow me to explain:
A major selling point of CB is that they are an upscale Italian restaurant offering individual pizzas from a wood-burning oven. However, their pizza oven does not have the capacity to make more than 3 or 4 pizzas at one time. So guess what happened when 5 people at my table ordered them? Right- one arrived looking terrific- crust was charred in the right places, cheese looked fresh and real, and the aroma was great. A couple of others looked passable- perhaps not cooked enough, but surely tasty. The last one, mine, was pale and cold. I tasted it and decided to send it back to be cooked further. The waiter apologized profusely (he is from Italy and we had several chats in Italian over the course of the evening) and tried to convince me that I would be better off getting a whole new pizza. He really pushed me to order a second one, but I figured, the crust was super thin and the oven was really hot. The pizza should cook in no time. I'd rather dine along with my companions, so I said no, thanks for the offer, please just put this one back in for a couple of minutes.
Big mistake. After about 10 minutes, my pizza came back looking exactly as it had before. I tried it, and it was slightly warmer, but still soft and pale. I again spoke to the server about it, and again, he apologized, acting surprised but not nearly as flabbergasted as I was. He blamed it on the fact that the pizza had been reheated, and he reminded me of his suggestion that I order a new one (hmmph).
So there's one lesson learned: don't expect to go with a group for pizza. That said, it was tasty and made with good ingredients.
Now, on to the rest of the food:
All of the appetizers were very good. Some of the best calamari fritti I have ever had here in Westchester. A satisfying platter of grilled vegetables and smoked tummino (cheese). The standout dish of the night was a grilled octopus appetizer. I don't know what the octopus was marinated in, but they placed it on toasts with a sweet and sour (balsamic? champagne vinegar? I don't know) sauce that was out of this world.
A pasta special with mussels and clams in a light tomato sauce was just ok. The mussels were dry and could have been hotter.

I did have a friendly, but annoyingly ongoing, debate with the server over the wine I chose. It was a wine I know well, having enjoyed it both in Italy as well as buying it here for home consumption. The server had presented me with a wine by the same producer, but not the one I had requested. I explained this to him, and he acted as though he knew nothing of what I was saying. Like it just wasn't getting through. He took the bottle away, and then came back with it a few minutes later, pointing to the label and showing me that the producer was, indeed, the one listed on the menu. I again tried to explain why the wine wasn't right. He seemed to understand, and told me that this was the only one they had... I gave in and said ok, we'll take it. I wasn't unfamiliar with this particular wine, it just wasn't the one on the menu... In retrospect, I shouldn't have had to engage in this debate at all. I was not entirely convinced that the server was unaware of the wine difference... but even if he were, his demeanor was a little too quick to insist that he was right. Anyway, I told him it was ok, we drank the wine, and it was fine.

At the end of the evening, Sean the manager visited our table to see how everything went and asked for our feedback. We told him that we like the food in general, but that the pizza situation was just not acceptable. He then explained to us that they could only make a couple of pizzas at one time (why hadn't the waiter said anything?), and that they cool off so quickly that it was challenging to deliver them to the table piping hot, especially considering that they were missing a server that evening. He offered his apology, and asked how he could make it up to us. None of us were in the mood for dessert, so we ended up with a round of limoncello on the house. Not bad.

The decor is very attractive and inviting. Plenty of hard wood, a lovely wine bar area, and attractive minimalist paintings (modern) of well-known wines that managed to avoid the cheesiness factor just enough to look cool.

Clearly, the pizza problem must be rectified. While I won't be running back, I will give them another chance sometime.

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