Eat Boston: Casa Razdora
La mia Casa è la tua Casa.
The above is the unofficial motto and spirit of my #1 lunch spot in Boston: Casa Razdora. The unassuming Italian counter is located in the Financial District, tucked away in the maze of streets and towers between State and Milk.
Like another Boston staple, Sam La Grassa’s, Casa is only open on weekdays, and has become a destination for seemingly everyone working in downtown (thanks Guy Fieri). This has made rush hour (12-1:30pm, appx) admittedly hectic, but come a little before or after and the place is much more relaxed, a cozy spot for a late lunch with a coworker or to catch up with a friend. No matter what time you arrive, however, the food is always among the best Italian you’ll find in Boston.
Usually a lunch counter is known for one or two things they do really well, like a killer sandwich or soup and salad combo. A lunch counter in the Financial District (of any city) is less known for the quality of its food than for the expediency with which the food is plopped into a to-go box. Workplace lunchtime is ultimately a scavenger hunt for the least uninteresting salad bowl. I think I just shed a tear.
And then there's Casa Razdora.
Any of them are sliced-to-order and superb, but my favorite are the Italian, the Razdora (prosciutto di parma & roasted red peppers), and the Tacchino Marinato (marinated turkey tips).
Pick a pasta shape and a sauce. There's no wrong.
E.g. Fettuccine Campagnola (sausage and mushrooms galore), Pumpkin Tortelloni alla Nonna (pink sauce), Gnocchi (I know it's not pasta) alla Anything, Linguini Fume (spicy light pink sauce).
This is where they really get ya. Specials include Rosette (prosciutto-stuffed pasta smothered in a creamy, buttery heaven sauce) on Thursdays, Lasagna Bolognese (best best best ever) on Mondays, and Veal Parmigiana on Fridays.
Otherwise, whatever your heart desires will likely hit the spot. The salads, according to what I can hear from the window counter five feet away from the register, are quite popular. You may plunge into a deep sleep after a visit, but know that at least it’ll be a sleep most satisfying.
I admit to having a very soft spot for Casa Razdora – the place got me through some tough times during my freshman year of school (for proof, take note of the 20-odd photos I contributed to their Yelp page at the time. Yeesh.). They greeted me warmly every time I came in, and even added little, extra touches to my orders; a lovely thing for a restaurant to do for a regular and, at the time, relatively cheap customer.
It’s not just me, though: people generally seem happy to be there, if slightly disappointed that the word has gotten out. The staff is cordial and hurried at rush hour, kind and sociable later on.
Long story short: they won't treat y'bad.
Tiny and crowded, but warm and cozy all the same. Get a seat at the window counter for the optimal experience.
How To Do It
Now, lunch rush at Casa Razdora is the same as lunch rush anywhere else in Boston; you order or you die...or get yelled at by everyone around you (same difference). The great thing about the Casa staff is that if you seem to be struggling, they’re really good at yelling extremely appetizing suggestions at you until landing on something you actually want. I still wouldn’t recommend being that person, but if you’re stuck, you’re stuck, and they’ll help you out, something I certainly can’t say about every lunch counter in Boston.
If you come in the off-hours it is much more welcoming, and they’re always happy to see a familiar face walk back through the door (I was gone for eight months for work, came back looking like a caveman, and they still recognized me - so they’re pretty good). It is easily one of the warmest eateries in the city, in both temperament and temperature.
To put it simply, the folks at Casa care; about the food, the service, and even about you (Again, not as much at rush hour. Don’t chat at rush hour.). Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.