Fast food fanatics and counter service fans, read no further . . . This review is for the “dyed-in-the-wool” diner, Epicurean, and antiquarian alike. Casa Storica at 156 Park Place, Brooklyn is the place for you.
This restaurant sits discretely on the corner of Park Place and Seventh Avenue, just off Flatbush Avenue. The only outward distinctions between it and the other Brownstones in the area are the beautiful stained glass windows and a very small subtle plaque with its name , Casa Storica on the door frame. To the casual stroller, the “goings-on” beyond the door would create curiosity only because of the inviting aromas wafting streetward. Don’t expect a glaring glass or revolving door at the entrance. There’s a knocker on a carved wooden door. And just inside the door is a small receiving area adjoining the center of operations — the kitchen. You’re pleasantly welcomed by one of the staff and led into the parlor located in the rear where you’re invited to relax with a cordial before dinner.
“Parlor” is the only appropriate name for this room. Its furnishings cover a span of time from the “turn of the century” — oil lamp chandelier to a 1970s modern music system. This mixture of antiquity and present day furnishings is no accident. The space once housed an antique shop which the owners have since moved across the street. There are antique pieces displayed in the parlor and in the dining room. They function as furnishings for diners as well as enticements for the avid antiquarian — some of these antiques are for sale.
Guests (capacity 34) are seated by a waiter in the order in which they arrive. There is no rush here. It’s total relaxation — the service is continental: two to three hours of atmosphere, nostalgia, and palate pampering.
The emphasis is no doubt placed on the quality of the food rather than extensive menu selections. Chef Emil, the most visible member of this establishment, devotes a good part of his day to the evening meal. He shops each day for the ingredients he’ll use for dinner. And the freshness of his corn-on-the-cob or salad greens makes this obvious. There is one sitting (dinner) and one entrée. This policy allows for full concentration on the chef’s epicurean talents. We were fortunate enough to enjoy his Chicken Parmesan. It was succulent, well seasoned and fork-tender (Julia Childs, eat your heart out!). In fact, the entire meal from pasta to salad was so well seasoned, until this “salt shaker” was never once tempted.
Our dinner, if you haven’t already guessed, was Italian. But the cuisine (French, Japanese, Italian, etc.) changes frequently except for Friday, it’s always fish night. Before running to Casa Storica, be sure to call first (212) 636-9617. Not only will you want to know the menu, but “reservations only” is the policy. As unusual as their ”one sitting-one entrée” system may seem, “it cuts down on waste and keeps prices down,” according to Chef Emil. Speaking of price, the full course dinner ranges from $7.00 to $8.50 per person and a limited wine list is also available.
Dress is comfortable, casual and in good taste. Casa Storica can be reached by the IND “D” train to Seventh Avenue or the IRT #3 or #4 to Grand Army Plaza. It’s well worth the trip from any route.