Last week I went with a friend to Il Casale in Belmont. She babysits for a family that lives up the road and every time she drives by, it's full. She decided she wanted to check it out for herself and now that I live one town over in Watertown, I got to be the lucky co-pilot.
Il Casale is in the heart of Belmont Center in a building that looks like a fire house.
Their sign is a bit hard to spot while driving because it blends into the brick, but up close, it's actually lovely.
We arrived just after 7:00pm and the whole place - dining room and bar - was completely packed.
The prime seats are clearly the tables in the front windows, which look like they could roll up in the nice weather.
We didn't have a reservation, so the host told us we could wait at the bar until a table became available. We were able to snag two seats on the very end as a couple was leaving.
We were agonizing over which cocktails to order when our bartender suggested we try the Orange Line cocktail. It's Il Casale's special drink for which 100% of the proceeds are being donated to The One Fund.
Of course we decided to each have one. The drink is orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, strawberry syrup, vodka, ginger beer and a blood orange for garnish.
I really hate orange juice, but this drink was delicious! Highly recommend.
After about a 15 minute wait our name was called and we were ushered to a high top table in the bar area (we relocated about 10 feet). From my seat I could see into the dining room which had the most magnificent floral arrangements.
We had a bit of time at the bar to look over the menu, so we were ready to order right when we sat down. Unfortunately, after our waiter brought us two glasses of water, he disappeared for a solid 15 minutes.
We decided to share two appetizers, beginning with the burrata. It was served with oregano and pistachios.
The burrata on its own was good, but it was even better spread over a piece of doughy bread, which our waiter brought once we were already most of the way through the dish.
Next we shared the arancini. These were excellent and the tomato sauce reminded me of the sauce on Papa Gino's pizza, my favorite as a kid.
For her entree, my friend selected the spaghetti carbonara. She said, "The pasta is definitely al dente, which I wasn't expecting. The sauce is very tasty, clean flavors and not too heavy."
I chose the squash pillows which was basically an Italian twist on butternut squash ravioli. I took two bites and I immediately regretted ordering it. It was way too sweet.
Because Il Casale offers small or full portions and we both ordered smalls, we had plenty of room for dessert. We ordered the piccolini, fancy Italian for "cookie plate."
It came with a florentine, a coconut macaroon, a biscotti, a cannoli and an almond tuile cookie.
Look at how the tuile cookie defies gravity!
My favorites were, in order: the florentine, the coconut macaroon, the biscotti, the almond tuile and then the cannoli. This was a great dessert to share, because when you cut each cookie in half, you are only taking one or two bites yourself.
For me, Il Casale was a mixed bag. I'd like to come back, sit on the patio, have some cocktails and maybe a few more arancini.
While on this outing, I discovered how cute Belmont Center is. I jotted down a few stores and restaurants I'd like to return to. Of course I'll report back to you on my findings.
Have you tried anywhere new lately that you loved?