Food Review

Restaurant Review – Casona in Collingswood, NJ


Looking for a destination for a great casual Father’s Day Weekend night out on Saturday the girls decided to take me out for a wonderful dinner of Cuban cuisine at Casona in Collingswood, NJ. 

Casona has been around since 2006 and was a favorite of mine for lunch while I was working in Collingwood years ago.  Over the years my wife and have enjoyed their unique menu mix of Cuban and Latin inspired food.  This was the first time we took the kids and we were not disappointed.

To start off the meal we went with their traditional guacamole.  They offer five varieties ranging from a simple basic recipe to a more creative versions like an Asian tuna guacamole.  If you can’t decide which one to try they offer a sampler too.  The portion is huge, served with house fried tortilla and plantain chips, and is perfect for sharing amongst a party of four.  Our order was delicious.

For the main course I had the Churrasco Steak.  It’s a grilled skirt steak served with fried yuca,  a mushroom ragout, more of that great guacamole, and accompanied with Casona’s take on chimichurri sauce.  The steak was done to perfection and the yuca, that my wife didn’t steal, was awesome.  The best part is the chimichurri, Casona makes this more as a tangy vinegar sauce than the typical herb puree.  It’s goes perfectly with the steak.

The Wookette had the Sea Bass and opted to substitute sautéed baby spinach for the Chipotle mash potatoes that it typically comes with.  The kitchen was happy to make the substitution and my wife loved the meal.  I stole a few bites and the fish was light and moist, cooked perfectly.  Casona prepares this with just enough seasoning to bring out the natural sweet flavors of the Sea Bass without covering it up in an overdone sauce.  Very well done.

Our meal was rounded out with chicken tenders for the kids.  The girls loved them but I don’t judge a restaurant on how good their chicken fingers are.  I judge a restaurant more on their willingness to cater to special requests and how kid friendly they are.  Casona, while being great food for adults, is perfect for kids.  The offer a full kid’s menu, had no problem making a custom salad for my youngest, and my girls would go there just to get the Jarritos Mexican Soda.

All in it was a great dinner.  Casona is a great choice for a date night, family dining, or a group outing.  It’s a BYOB so bring your favorite wine or brew.  If you go I recommend going in the spring, fall or a mild summer night so you can enjoy dining outside on Casona’s covered porch.  It’s on the Western edge of the Haddon Ave Collingswood “Restaurant District” so it’s a little quieter with less street traffic.

A note on the service:  I’ve said before and I’ll say it again that good service is essential for a great dining experience.  The service this night at Casona was exceptional thanks to our waiter Kyle and the other staff that supported him.   The entire meal was perfect and just when I thought it couldn’t get better, as I was leaving, Kyle came chasing me down the street with the credit card I had forgotten on the table … Thanks man, I owe you one!

10 replies »

    • Highly popular here due to the insane cost of a liquor license and the number of dry towns (Collingswood is one of those towns). I’m sure The Wookie can give a better explanation.

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    • In New Jersey, each municipality is allowed to issue one tavern or bar license for every 3,000 residents, and one license for a packaged-goods store for every 7,500. This goes all the way back to the Temperance Movement (Boooo!). The thought was it would limit disorderly behavior found at bars. All it really did was limit competition and put a high premium on liquor licenses. Hence in NJ, especially South Jersey, most of the “bars” don’t have good food, they make all their money from booze. Places without liquor licenses need to make great food to survive so many of the sucessful BYOBs have better food than places with liquor licenses.

      Collingswood, where this place is located, is unique because it is a dry town. I does allow you to “Bring Your Own”. Collingswood has a fantastic restaurant district and I save a little money by not paying the premium on restaurant wine or beer …. what’s not to like?

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      • The limit on liquor licenses has it’s good and bad points:

        The Bad
        – Less competition
        – Harder for new restaurants to succeed
        – Expensive to start a new bar
        – Many of the licenses are held by chain restaurants (at least around us)

        The Good
        – BYOBing is cheaper than paying restaurant prices for beer and wine
        – BYOBing makes every restaurant a craft beer bar
        – Buying packaged goods in generally easy in NJ (Compared to PA & NY)
        – Restaurants that survive without liquor licenses are usually great

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