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Restaurant Review: Casa Mia

This week food writer Clara Park reviews Casa Mia in Middletown Township.

Restaurant:

Address: 1175 W. Baltimore Pk., Media, PA 19063

Rating: (out of 5 stars): ★★★1/2
Style: Bar and Grill

Food: Italian offerings, sandwiches and burgers
Atmosphere: Dimly lit interior with wooden fixtures
Parking: Large lot
Service: Warm and welcoming
Price Range: Menu items range from $5-$25
Unique Feature: Quality beer list, Quizzo and karaoke nights

Casa Mia means "my house" in Italian. While many of us may dream of having a fully functioning bar in our house, very few of us will see that wish fulfilled. Casa Mia is a bar and restaurant where the bar takes up about half of the space. Recently it has rebranded itself a bistro but the vibe of neighborhood bar and grill remains. We arrived for dinner after much holiday revelry, shopping and over indulgence. Strangely enough, all three of us had a hankering for some old school Italian food. We didn’t want butternut squash ravioli with sage and brown butter. We wanted oodles of pasta with red sauce, soulful dishes brimming with meat and cheese.

We were at the right place.

We began with a Dogfish Head IPA, glass of Montepulciano and house Cabernet. The bar is quite well stocked and I was impressed by the array of available beverages. Dogfish Head brewery produces quality beer all the time. The Montepulciano was easy drinking and paired well with food. Both glasses of wine were $6.50 which I think is quite a fair price.

The entrees come with a dinner salad and bread so we all shared the shrimp lejon to start. The rather large shrimp were slathered with a horseradish sauce then wrapped in bacon. The shrimp flavor was downplayed by the smokiness of the bacon, but this should come as no surprise. The dipping sauce was some sort of thin red sauce reminiscent of an asian cocktail sauce. These were fine to eat but not my favorite.

Our dinner salads were simple. Composed of iceberg lettuce, tomato wedge and sliced red onion, the cool salads were a refreshing portion of our meal. Casa Mia offers almost every dressing under the sun and we enjoyed balsamic vinaigrette, creamy Italian and blue cheese dressings on our salads.

The stars of the show were the pasta dishes. The lasagna seemed to go on forever as I stuck my fork through layer upon layer of pasta, ground beef, cheese and sauce. The golden bubbly cheese on top was textbook perfect. Each bite had me imagining someone’s Italian grandmother in the back creating each pan of lasagna. The tomato sauce was well seasoned and hearty. The pasta noodles weren’t overcooked and mushy. I enjoyed this dish immensely.

The penne marinara was generous in portion and hit all the right notes. The light tomato sauce married well with the al dente cooked noodles. This bare bones dish was still full of flavor. Delicious enough to please fussy kids and adults, this $9 pasta dish is also friendly on the wallet.

The eggplant parmesan was outstanding. There was no greasy or bitter taste to the eggplant. Each bite was tender and satisfying. All three of us exclaimed, "yum!" after the first taste. The fact this dish comes with a side of pasta marinara is just gravy. You get the best of both worlds when you can’t decide what you want to eat. Eggplant parmesan is Italian comfort food at its best. This rendition is a far cry from the heavy, greasy gut bomb masquerading as eggplant parm at the food court at the mall.

The service was outstanding. Our server was all smiles and possessed a genuine warmth and sincerity that is rarely seen. He treated us like welcome guests the entire meal and offered funny comments while simultaneously tending to all of our needs. A skilled server knows exactly when to check on you and when to leave you alone. Our server was highly skilled.

Casa Mia may not be my actual house but I felt right at home.

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