Casa Mia means plentiful and cheap

March 14, 1996|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

I didn't want a superb meal. I didn't want expert service, fine wine or a sophisticated setting. I didn't want to dress up. I'd just spent the last several weeks visiting a series of Important Restaurants for The Sun's March 28 dining guide on special occasion eating places, and the thought of one more elegant little beurre blanc or plate of food arranged like a work of art just didn't appeal.

Casa Mia seemed like just the ticket. Several people had told me it fell in the undiscovered gem category, even though it's been around for five years.

Well, I've come to the conclusion there are no undiscovered gems out there, particularly ones that have been around five years. But Casa Mia does have good old-fashioned comfort food in vast quantities. And the price is right.

The menu is mostly Italian and Greek, heavy on the pasta and chicken dishes, with some Maryland seafood specialties like crab cakes and crab imperial. There are also pizza, burgers and subs. Calories are simply not a consideration here, although you can have a seafood, fruit or grilled chicken salad if you insist.

I thought twice about not wanting fine wine when I got the house white, a glass of room-temperature chablis. And while I didn't need a sophisticated setting, I wasn't quite ready for an all-aqua dining room.

But our waitress, Terri, had a better routine than you can find on Comedy Central. (She wasn't bad at getting our meal on the table either.) And the food was plentiful, hot, hearty and cheap.

If you order the seafood Alfredo you won't be able to finish all the fettucini and rich cream sauce. The seafood, nice lumps of crab and a couple of fat shrimp, is skimpy but delicious. Any of the pastas is a good bet lasagna or ravioli, say, with a homemade tomato sauce. Or try one of the poultry dishes like chicken florentine, boneless white meat with lots of spinach and enough bechamel sauce to float a small boat.

The Greek food is satisfying, like the flavorful little stuffed grape leaves with an egg-lemon sauce, layers of crisp phyllo filled with spinach and the char-broiled souvlaki. Get the combination platter of these and you'll also get a small Greek salad, all for under $10.

Stay away from the clams casino. The clams are lost under their thick blanket of mozzarella. And thumbs down on the baklava, at once chewy and soggy. But if you eat as much of the soft, hot, fresh garlic and herb bread that comes with dinner as we did, you won't have room for dessert anyway.

Casa Mia

40 York Road, Towson (410) 321-8707

Hours: Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. every other day

Credit cards: AE, DC, MC, V

Prices: Appetizers, $2.75-$7.25; entrees, $7.25-$14.50

Pub Date: 3/14/96

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