Sometimes you’re really rooting for a restaurant to be good and to survive. Since we’re always on the lookout for ethnic food in the HV and love Middle Eastern foods, this was the case when we first saw the sign for Casablanca, a new Moroccan restaurant in what’s quickly becoming Poughkeepsie’s Restaurant Row.
It’s run by a husband and wife, Azeddine and Mary—he’s Moroccan, she’s Irish and has a soft spot for all things related to Casablanca, the movie. Stills from the film decorate the room and a large screen TV behind the bar will “play it again”.
But let’s cut to the food. If you’re familiar with Moroccan food, there will be a lot of favorites on the menu. Couscous, tagines and brochettes highlight the entrees.
We started with a big plate of the Moules à la Marocaine. While we were expecting mussels in the shell, these were shelled and piled on a plate with a sauce of garlic, cilantro, tomato and crushed pepper, making it easy to enjoy them without doing any work.
Janet’s main course a chicken tagine came with a choice of soup or fries. She went with the soup which was a tomato-based broth with lentils, chickpeas and spices. It was good and even better with a squirt of lemon filched from the mussels.
Her tagine was a nicely braised chicken breast, nestled on a bed of green olives with preserved lemons. The lemons and olives gave it a salty tang and great flavor.
I went for a Moroccan classic, couscous. Casablanca offers traditional couscous with your choice of chicken, lamb or beef, or a Couscous Royal with all three. For vegetarians, you can also get a Couscous aux Legumes with seasonal vegetables.
It had a nice slab of lamb, resting on perfectly cooked couscous and topped with big slices of carrots, zucchini, Brussels sprouts and other vegetables. The lamb and vegetables were tender and flavorful.
Out of habit I asked for harissa and we were given a small dish of the spicy condiment. It added the perfect mix of heat and flavor to the couscous and tagine.
A conversation with Azzadine, the owner, revealed that the harissa was house made, rare these days, so go experience it.
We skipped dessert—too full after all the other dishes, but there are Moroccan cookies, cheesecake, ice cream and other goodies.
I’ll go back to try some of the other menu items like the brochettes—especially the merguez, appetizers like hummus and babaganoush and the chicken Pastilla (chicken wrapped in puff pastry with almonds and cinnamon).
There’s a full bar and small wine list.
2 Delafield Street
Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch