Good Deal - November 2009

By ericg November 1, 2009

The Place: Casa Italia, 2080 Constitution Blvd., Sarasota; closed Sunday and Monday; (941) 924-1179.

The Fare: Owners Raj and Nita Mathur are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet across cold cases filled with tempting cheeses, deli items and an astonishing array of olives in many styles from all over the Mediterranean. Nearby, shelves groan with pastas and spices and sauces and pickles and sweets . . . oh, my!

The Drill: Chef Nita prepares Italian meals for takeout throughout the week, but on Thursdays she turns her gifted hand to Indian cuisine. Call ahead for the day’s menu and either reserve or pick up well before closing time at 6 p.m. or you might be too late.

The Bottom Line: The day’s menu choices are sold by the pound, so you can get exactly the balance and quantity your appetite demands. Offerings change weekly but always include a main dish and several sides. On a recent Thursday the main event was a celestial chicken Maharaja, featuring tender chunks of chicken breast in a curry so beautifully balanced that every spice in the sauce claimed its rightful place on the palate. We tempered the richness with sides of a cool and yogurty raita with cucumber, red onion and tomato, pulao rice with peas, and a harmonious medley of fresh vegetables in a tangy red sauce. From the freezer we chose a package of garlic scented nan, the Indian flatbread. At home, we nuked the chicken, rice and veggies, spooned up the raita cold and warmed the nan in a skillet. It was a scrumptious fast feast, and the beauty is that it set us back just $28.75, tax included and no need to tip.

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