2012-11-14 / Restaurant of the Week

TU CASA

By Teresa Barile

“Tu Casa” es mi casa…for extraordinarily delicious Peruvian and pan-Latino food, fabulous cocktails and sultry music, seven days a week, right here on bustling Steinway Street. Make any night a fiesta at “Tu Casa” where friends gather at the convivial bar chatting with Willy, the amiable and charming owner, and Maybelline, the delightful server with the biggest smile. With daily lunch specials served from 10am to 3pm, delicious appetizers, dinner entrees and more, Tu Casa is a great place to take a break from your workaday routine, or after shopping on Steinway Street The prices are within reach to all and the service is excellent.

Escape the world outside and enter the chic, modern space that features an inviting bar at the front offering a wide variety of cocktails, beer, wine, and their wonderful sangria that’s mixed up on the spot. Margaritas are served traditionally or enhanced with passionfruit, mango, strawberry, or pomegranate. Relax with a minty mojito, daiquiri, caipirinha, or one of their signature cocktails such as “La Flaca”, “El Macho”, or “Tu Casa”, made with rum, liqueur and fruit juices. If you prefer, non-alcoholic, fresh fruit juices are offered such as mango, guayaba, blackberry and a traditional Peruvian drink made from purple corn called “chicha marron”.

The chefs at Tu Casa use only the freshest ingredients that include plenty of fish and seafood, meat, rice, beans and more, all cooked up with flavorful herbs and spices. Nothing is spicy, unless you want it to be, and everything is delicious. Starting with appetizers or ‘apperitivos”, one of my favorite South American dishes is called “ceviche”, a salad of cold seafood, including plump shrimp, flaky fish, and calamari marinated in fresh lime juice, cilantro and red onion. If you’re new to this type of cuisine, this is a great dish to try and there’s plenty to share as an appetizer. You’ve also got to try one of their crispy, golden empañadas; a flaky pastry filled with ground beef, chicken, or cheese. These make great bar snacks too, as do the chicken wings with your choice of sauce, or a platter of their impossibly tender, crunchy, fried calamari ($10) that offer plenty to share, with zesty sauce on the side. Tu Casa’s hearty chicken soup with big chunks of chicken, corn and cilantro is the perfect choice on these cold days ahead. Peruvian seafood chowder is another soul-warming treat, and do share a wonderful salad, topped with slices of buttery avocado.

Entrées at Tu Casa cover chicken, beef, pork and seafood options, with a strong emphasis on the very freshest seafood. Our salmon was sublime, topped with shrimp and calamari in a light tomato sauce. Nothing here is heavy or salty, allowing all the fresh flavors to come through. The “corvine sudada” is a stand-out dish of the freshest, flakiest trout, steamed with white wine and tomato, with lots of fluffy rice on the side. You can choose white rice or savory yellow rice to soak up all that delicious sauce. You can also have your trout gently fried to a golden finish. A typical entree called “jalea” is a seafood feast of calamari, shrimp, fish and clams on a bed of fried yucca topped with a zesty lime and cilantro dressing. Other seafood entrees include shrimp in garlic and white wine sauce over rice or “camarones saltado”, which are shrimp sautéed with onions, tomato and cilantro, served with rice and fries ($15).

If you prefer meat, “entraña” is juicy, tender skirt steak marinated and grilled to perfection. Pork chops are thick and juicy and can be grilled or fried to order. Hearty beef stew or chicken stew makes a satisfying lunch or dinner. “Chicharrones de pollo” are tender chunks of white meat chicken, quickly fried until golden crisp, served with fried plantains called tostones. Rice and beans are super important in Latino cuisine and Tu Casa makes the best pinto beans, cooked without pork fat so they are light, flavorful, and vegetarian-approved. These beans, along with white or yellow rice are the perfect accompaniment for the rotisserie chicken, which will make your mouth water. Side dishes include crispy tostones, maduros, which are sweet plantains, delicious fried yucca, and French fries.

Sweeten your palate with one of Tu Casa’s decadent desserts that include “tres leches” cake made with three kinds of milk, cool, creamy flan, cheesecake, or chocolate layer cake. Each goes very well with a steaming cup of coffee, and why not add a shot of Kahlua or Tia Maria liqueur to that coffee?

Tu Casa is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. They deliver and offer off-site catering to make your next party a blast. Lunch is served from 10am to 3pm with specials from $5.99. Dinner is served until 10:30pm on weekdays and until 1am on weekends. There’s live Latin music on the weekends and Happy Hour specials so check their Web site for more information. Visit their other location on Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens. Tu Casa es mi casa for the best Latino food in Astoria! Buen provecho.

30-10 Steinway Street  Astoria
718.806.1819

www.tucasarestaurant.com

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