Casamento’s is a neighborhood joint that closes for a long vacation every year in the summer. But during the R months, it is a major oyster destination. Be warned, though: it is a weird place, one of the LEAST romantic restaurants we know: extremely bright overhead fluorescent lights, tile walls reminiscent of a bathroom, and a waitstaff that shuffles from the kitchen to tables with such angst that you feel sorry for the poor old gals. Casamento’s two small dining rooms have only a few dozen chairs, plus room for a couple of stand-up oyster eaters at the bar in front.
Although the famous thing to eat is seafood, and rightly so, some old-timers come for Casamento’s spaghetti and meatballs, or for the fascinating red-sauced platter of well-cooked noodles and slices of meat known as daube. Daube is a curious legacy of the Creole-Italian kitchen, but if it’s your first or only visit to Casamento’s, go for oysters, soft-shelled crabs, shrimp, or trout.
Have your oysters on the half shell or grilled, but the best dish in the house is an oyster loaf. It is in the po boy family but bulkier. Oysters are fried so that each one is crackle-crusted and heaps of them are loaded between big slabs of sideways-sliced white bread. The bland yeasty bread is a perfect companion for crunchy, ocean-flavored oysters. A dozen or two just-opened raw oysters on the half shell and a full-size oyster loaf is a feast for two. Similar loaves are available made with fried shrimp, catfish, soft-shell crab, even meatballs.
Note: Casamento’s is closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and all of June, July, and August.