Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Porky New Favorite: El Caserio

Do you have restaurants that you really should have made it to but that you just never did? There is no rational reason that I had yet to set foot in El Caserio. The well regarded Ecuadoran-Italian restaurant is close to where I live; I've driven by it literally hundreds of times, both the original location on Virgil and the newer, fancier Silverlake Boulevard restaurant. I've eaten at nearly every other place within a one mile radius going any direction, but I just never made it there. Finally, I decided enough was enough, it was time to go, so we hit the location on Silverlake Boulevard.

It's a nice looking restaurant with a good vibe. The clientele on a Sunday night appeared to be mostly South American and many were larger groups there for special occasion dinners.

We ordered a few things, but the highlight of the meal was the Cosas Finas (fine things), a giant plate of sausage, roast pork, potato cakes, roast potatoes, fried plantains and mini-tamales topped with hard-roasted corn. This was outstanding and enough to feed two. The tamales were sweet and did well with a dash of the restaurant's spicy tomato water, the sausages had nice flavor, and the roast corn added a nice crunchiness.

My favorite cosa fina, though, was the roast pork. The pork was roasted to the melt-in-your-mouth point in which the fat and meat mix together to create that beautiful smoky, porky taste, similar to a Cuban lechon. I kept picking at the bones to get every last morsel.

El Caserio also has a variety of homemade pastas. We had the Pappardelle Bolognese with meatballs. The pasta was nice but the meatballs were dense and didn't have great flavor.

I will definitely go back to El Caserio, and even though I didn't like the meatballs, I would like to try more of the pastas, as they had potential. Most of all though, I'll be back for that plate of Cosas Finas.

El Caserio
401 Silverlake Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 273-8945

309 N. Virgil Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 664-9266

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