2013-11-13 / Restaurant of the Week

TU CASA in Astoria

TU CASA is my favorite place to go for authentic Peruvian and Latin American fare. The portions are generous, the prices moderate, and the staff friendly and professional. Whether you come here for lunch, dinner, weekend entertainment, Sunday brunch, or just drinks, you will find the atmosphere welcoming and relaxed. Both in the front of the restaurant where a few small groupings of tables and chairs surround an artfully designed full-service bar; and in back where a large dining room is hidden away, the tables are somehow arranged so that wherever you are you have a sense of privacy. The color scheme consists mainly of earth tones, and this, too, adds to a feeling of well-being.

If you like to unwind with a drink at the end of the day, you should know that TU CASA offers a variety of beer and wine selections as well as classic and designer mixed drinks. For those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, TU CASA also has an incredible assortment of sodas and juices, coffee and tea. My friend and I each ordered a glass of red sangria ($7.00), which was sweet, but not too sweet, and had the perfect blend of fruit. Later we tried the Besame ($10.00), a mix of coconut vodka, and pomegranate and pineapple juices; and the Narangita Dulce ($11.00), a blend of orange vodka, lemon, strawberries, pink lemonade, and soda. Both were delicious. You can also choose from five or six different types of margaritas or mojitos ($8.00-$9.00), or one of TU CASA’s other signature mixed drinks such as the Lychee Fig or Café con Leche Martini.

Every night, Monday through Thursday, TU CASA invites you to come in, relax and have a drink on the house. Monday is two-for-one wine and sangria night, Tuesday, is $4.00 margaritas night, Wednesday is $5.00 mojitos night, and Thursday is Ladies’ Night when you can order two pitchers of sangria for the price of one. If you haven’t been here yet, why not drop in some evening after work and take advantage of one of these deals? Or come with a friend, order a soda, and chat over a plate of appetizers.

TU CASA has an impressive menu of Peruvian, Latin American and fusion cuisine that will satisfy and inspire you. Thanks to the restaurant’s busy and affable manager, who calls himself Six, I am able to pass on some useful information about the house specialties and offer suggestions on what to order. First, Six told me, 85 percent of the menu consists of traditional Peruvian dishes. The other 15 percent includes what the house considers the best of other traditional Latin American cuisines. For example, TU CASA prepares beef in the Argentinean style and rice in the Dominican style. Peruvian cuisine stands out for its seafood dishes, Six told us, and it is in its seafood dishes that the cooks take their greatest pride. They purchase and serve fresh fish every single day. Whatever is left over does not get served to customers the following day.

My friend and I began our most recent TU CASA adventure by ordering the popular Tu Casa Picada ($24.00), a large appetizer platter of mixed meats and sausages piled atop a bed of sliced and toasted yucca and plantains that can easily satisfy a ravenous group of four to six. What a beautiful presentation it had! The meat was well seasoned and tasty, and served together with TU CASA’s white and green dipping sauces. The dish proved to be one of complex and exciting flavors. For balance, we also ordered the Papa a la Huancaina ($6.00) which is a lovely Peruvian appetizer consisting of boiled potatoes covered in a yummy Peruvian cheese sauce. Other options for a first course include fried calamari ($10), Peruvian seafood, shrimp, or seafood combination soup ($7.99), or your choice of salad with avocado, steak, chicken, shrimp, or fish ($5.50-$13.00).

For our main course, my friend ordered a vegetarian dish, an Asian Linguini Saltado that looked like a work of art and that she described as truly outstanding. I had my favorite entree, a ceviche mixto (lime, marinated seafood with onions and cilantro, $15.99) which, as always, was fresh, delicately seasoned and generous. Remember what Six said about Peruvian specialties: that fish and seafood play leading roles, and that TU CASA’s fish and seafood dishes are always of the best quality and served fresh every day. There are two more ceviches to try as well as other delicious fish and seafood entrees that include trout ($13.99-$14.99), shrimp ($15.99), and TU CASA’s Jalea (crisp calamari, shrimp and fish fillet with tomatoes, onions and lime juice, $20.99). If you prefer meat, you have a variety of beef and pork dishes to choose from, including the popular Bistec Tu Casa (grilled steak with rice, beans, maduros, chicharon, chorizo and fried egg on top, $14.99). You can also have fresh tender chicken grilled, fried, sautéed, breaded, or stewed (6.99 to 12.99). If you still have room for dessert, TU CASA offers a choice of flan, dulce de three leches, cheesecake or chocolate fudge cake for between $4.00 and $4.50.

TU CASA is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner (Monday through Thursday from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Friday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 AM, Saturday from 12:00 PM to 1:00 AM, and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM). Lunch is served from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM with specials ranging from $5.99 to $9.99. For $5.99, you can get a quarter chicken with rice and beans and a free can of soda. Then, if you’ve brought along your laptop, you can take advantage of TU CASA’s free WI-FI service to answer emails or catch up on your work. TU CASA is open for Sunday brunch. Order from the menu and for $10.00 more, get unlimited mimosas, sangrias or margaritas. On Friday and Saturday nights there is Latin music from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM and karaoke starting at 11:00 PM. This Friday and throughout the month of November Annissa Gathers, who played Celia Cruz in Celia The Musical, will be performing. She has a great voice and a big turnout is expected. Then, on Saturday you can listen to Latin jazz.

Kid-friendly and wheelchair accessible, TU CASA is a place where everyone can feel at home. In addition to table service, it offers takeout, delivery and catering. You can hold a party here for up to 70 people. TU CASA in Astoria is located at 30-10 Steinway St., reservations and credit cards accepted. Come once and you will come again.

30-10 Steinway Street  Astoria
718.806.1819

www.tucasarestaurant.com

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