ME Casa, Jersey City, NJ

Over the weekend I was in Jersey City at Pole Position Raceway with my kids racing go karts and I was looking for something nearby for dinner. I was in the mood for either asian or Latin. I went onto Yelp and just couldn’t get into anything and just wasn’t feeling it. My niece recommended ME Casa and having previously read a number of positive reviews I figured that I might as well give it a shot. Plus they would have something my foodie, carnivore kid would probably like. So ME Casa it was.

The restaurant scene in Jersey city seems to have taken off in the last couple of years. There seem to be quite a few restaurants where the chefs are doing interesting things like Thirty Acres, a restaurant I really want to check out and Maritime Parc which looks like a beautiful restaurant with the kind of food I like. Add the great ethnic food scene and you have the ingredients for possibly a great foodie destination. I think it’s time I explored it more extensively.

Ok, back to ME Casa. The restaurant is in an obscure little spot down a few steps off a main street. I actually missed it the first time driving by and then after driving around for 10 minutes to find parking, I eventually made it to the restaurant. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was quite surprised when I opened the door and walked in. The restaurant is tiny, perhaps 8 tables of so. The place is so small that a table of 6 women completely dominated the conversation in the entire place. They were having a good time but were getting on my nerves. So glad they left mid way through my meal.

Service is eagar. The waiter came over a little too quickly to take our order and after we asked for a a little extra time he was back over quickly. The hostess / waitress / possible owner was charming, welcoming and ever so helpful and eagar to please. Service overall was great. Even the chef was out in the restaurant a few times to check on things. BTW, the restaurant is BYOB. Most people seemed to know that (I didn’t) which suggests it’s more of a neighborhood place.

Onto the food. We ordered the mixed empanada plate and calamari to share. The empanada’s included one each of beef, chicken and shrimp. All tasted great. The calamari was perfectly fried, not greasy whatsover. It came with pickled onions which were pretty good. Along with our apps we got a basket of garlic bread. The bread came so hot that I burnt the inside of my mouth. It should come with a warning just like coffee does at Starbucks. I would have to say it was a pretty great start to the meal. The food to come offered great promise, unfortunately it didn’t live upto the billing. Between us we ordered the traditional marinated roast pork (ordered by my pork centric son), steak with caramalized onions (for my steak loving 12 year old daughter) and mofongo with chicken stew and also beef stew. The portions are huge. The sides of rice & beans with the pork and steak could be main courses on their own. They could cut the main courses by half and we would have sufficient food. The beef stew was pretty good. The chicken stew was ok. The roast pork was a little dry and the steak was over cooked. While the food was generally ok, it suffered from way too much garlic. It pretty much overwhelmed the good. Damn shame. Despite the vast quantities of food, prices are quite reasonable, roughly $17 for entrees. Great value.

ME Casa isn’t exactly a restaurant I would crave returning to, but I’m glad I went because it has helped put Jersey City on my culinary map.

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