Casamento’s combines two of my favorite things that our food crazy city has to offer: family-owned restaurants and seafood. Traveling throughout the city, you can see that so much of what makes our city unique is that fact that there are so many small businesses and restaurants. While many other cities are filled with popular chain restaurants and coffee shops, we are composed of independently-owned shops and cafes. And due to the location of this city, many of these family-owned businesses specialize in seafood.
One of my favorite places to head for fresh seafood is Casamento’s. Located on Magazine Street, right by the intersection of Napoleon, Casamento’s is a small, narrow store front that you might pass right by if you’re not paying attention. The restaurant was established in 1919 by Joe Casamento, an Italian immigrant. Following traditions from Italy, Casamento decided to line the whole restaurant with tile, a task that took four tile companies from across the U.S. to complete. The restaurant is still covered in spotless tile and has the feeling of being in a family living room for a holiday meal.
The building that houses Casamento’s is narrow and long, somewhat similar to the traditional shot-gun style of housing popular throughout New Orleans. There are a few tables and chairs against the wall in the front room and a larger dining room towards the back. There’s usually a worker stationed at the counter in the front room, shucking oysters throughout the dinner shift. It is still very much a family-owned restaurant. Almost all of the small staff are related, which means that when there’s a family emergency (like daughter Nicole’s serious automobile accident back in December), the restaurant closes so the family can care for one another.
The menu includes many traditional local seafood dishes. You can find oysters on the half shell, a delicious gumbo, fried seafood platters and po’ boys. But you will also find a more Italian inspired twist on the traditional dishes. For instance, instead of using French bread for their po’ boys, Casamento’s serves them on “pan bread.” They also have fried calamari, as well as a plate of spaghetti and meatballs on their menu.
Casamento’s is a institution that has been serving guests for nearly one hundred years. It is one of those rare places, able to seamlessly evolve from one decade into another. No matter what you came to New Orleans for – food, culture, history – you will find them all at Casamento’s.