Recently, I had dinner and drinks at Casablanca Restaurant’s downstairs dining room. I was really intrigued by a couple of rattan loungers built for two in the bar area, which I heard from my dining companions, harkened back to Casablanca’s days as a more bar-centric venue.
I found a picture by Eric Antinou of Casablanca in the 1980’s from Harvard Square: An Illustrated History by Mo Lotman. It looks almost completely different to the space today. The current dining room is bright, with lots of murals and comfortable seating. You can still see some of the touches around the room that give a nod to the history of the space, but it doesn’t feel like an old bar.
With the differing medical opinions on grain alcohol in a gluten-free diet, I tend to order wine a lot, so the generous wine list provided plenty of options. I did not see any gluten free beers on their menu, but maybe if I had asked they would have surprised me with something in the back (Charlie’s Kitchen, just down the street, did so the other week. They stock Redbridge, Anheuser-Busch’s G/F beer).
When I mentioned my allergy, the waiter immediately knew what I was talking about and went back to the kitchen to confirm some options for me. I can’t remember all the options I was presented with, but there were a number of choices; including the stuffed peppers, a vegetarian option. I chose the heirloom tomato salad an order of grape leaves. My dining companions both had burgers, which looked great. Both got good reviews, one even saying that they were better than Mr. Bartley’s, which was shocking to me.
The salad was awesome; it was much more satisfying than your run of the mill deli / appetizer salad. The dish was really well-balanced between the fresh ricotta, the sweet tomatoes, salty ham and peppery arugula. The dressing was great, nutty and just slightly acidic.
The grape leaves were also good. They had whole pine nuts in with the rice, which added nice flavor.
We got some salted almonds with our tea / coffee for dessert. They had been blanched, toasted, lightly coated with (what I think was) olive oil and salted: very satisfying and light. If you are looking for a quick bar snack, I would get the almonds.
G/F friendly: 4 of 5
Ambiance in one word: relaxed
Food Taste and Quality: 4 of 5