How does a SarasotaFoodie celebrate a birthday? Eating out, of course!
It was my birthday, (not saying which one) and Mart would not tell me where we were going for dinner. I guessed a few of my favorites, but he wouldn’t divulge. The only clue I had, as I got into the car, was it was “new, but not new”. Huh?
So imagine how thrilled I was to pull up to Cas Antica, the new home of Master Chef and owner, Pietro Migliaccio, the original owner of Gabbianos on Siesta Key. When we profiled Gabbianos earlier this year, we couldn’t say enough about the food and spectacular service there, and Pietro is certainly part of that equation. Seriously, when Italian food aficionados like Luciano Pavarotti rave about your food on national television, you have to know the food is more than good! I knew we were in for a treat!
Cas Antica means ‘old house’, which is the perfect description of this Sarasota landmark at 1213 Palm Avenue, a short walk from The Ritz Carlton. Comprised of 5 or six small rooms, the atmosphere is warm and cozy, just as you’d expect in a home. There is a wonderful front patio for those who like to dine under the stars, and a fireplace in the front dining room. Rich colors and artwork adorn the walls. . . if we didn’t know better, you’d think Cas Antica had been opened for years!
Starting our evening off, Mart and I ordered the escargot special, which we later told Pietro that he HAS to add to the regular menu. Covering a large dinner size plate, this appetizer featured about a dozen escargot, portabella mushrooms and micro greens in a brandy wine sauce. Absolutely delicious.
Always looking for something he can’t get just anywhere, Mart jumped at the chance to enjoy the rabbit (get it? jump? rabbit? Okay, maybe not that funny). Braised in a delicious, lightly herbed tomato sauce with a side of his favorite pasta, gnocchi, Mart was impressed with the tenderness of the rabbit against the texture of the gnocchi. You can’t tell from the photo, but the portion was quite large, and even as delicious as it was, Mart couldn’t finish it in one sitting.
Being that it’s still my birthday, I throw all dietary caution to the wind, and order the Nodino di Vitello, a 14 ounce veal chop sautéed in a light and creamy cognac and portobello mushroom sauce, then sprinkled with truffle oil. Now I realize that truffle oil, like cilantro, isn’t for everyone, but I could not imagine a better way to enjoy the flavors of truffle than with cognac and mushrooms. Served with a side of penne in a light tomato sauce and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, this delightful dinner was more than I could eat in one sitting, though I tried! One of the pricier items on the menu, it was well worth it, as I enjoyed the remaining portion as a hearty lunch the next day.
If, and when, you dine at Cas Antica, you will no doubt enjoy the heightened level of service from Pietro and his team. Our table was served by not only our waiter, but a couple food runners and a waiter from the adjoining room, all who made a point of wishing me a ‘Happy Birthday’. We never had to ask for a thing — the servers were watching out for us and seemed to predict any request we had, even before we made one!
Being that I couldn’t finish my meal, neither us considered ordering dessert. Not that I had a choice of thoroughly enjoying one!
Within moments of our dishes being cleared, our server brought out two glasses of Moscato and a delightful tiramisu with a candle. I simply loved the presentation with cocoa powder and chocolate decorating the plate, and the tiramisu itself was to-die-for! Light and delicious, we managed to finish it off, even though we would have sworn under oath that we couldn’t eat another bite.
And was that the end of our evening? Not a chance! When Pietro heard it was my birthday, he invited Mart and I downstairs to join him in a glass of port and some biscotti. Really? More food and wine? Oh well. . . You only have a birthday once a year!