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Casa Ora

Restaurants, Venezuelan East Williamsburg
3 out of 5 stars
Casa Ora
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
Most New Yorkers only know the basics of Venezuelan cuisine: arepas. Few restaurants in the city offer the South American nation’s lesser-known dishes, let alone incorporate them into fine dining. Casa Ora is intent on changing that. A lived-in feeling pervades the space (its name translates to “home”), thanks to hanging pothos plants, velvet couches, framed maps of the country and photographs documenting Venzuelan street life.
It’s a full house: Ivo Diaz (a NoMad alum) and his partner, pastry chef Rachel Diaz Pirard, opened the space with his mother, Isbelis, whose home-style Venezuelan cooking has been transformed. The menu's development was also informed by Chef Luis Herrera (previously Sous Chef at Cosme and Alto, a “World’s 50 Best- Latin America” restaurant in Venezuela).
We began our meal with tequeños ($10), or Latin-style cheese sticks, crispy shells that ooze queso blanco instead of mozzarella. We loved dipping them into the tartar and guasacaca sauces—a step up from simple marinara.

After that delicious start, a few of Casa Ora’s dishes got bogged down in too-similar flavor profiles, making it redundant to share plates, even if they were individually pleasant. For example, the hallaca ($12), pork tamal with chickpeas, could’ve used more olives for some extra dimension. The bollitos pelones ($14), which are corn dumplings stuffed with ground beef in a tomato sauce, lacked a strong taste of its component ingredients.

But some plates do stand out, such as the pabellón ($26), an elevation of the traditional Venezualen rice and beans with shredded beef, here as a slab of brisket. Next to that generous portion is a plump dollop of sweet plantains, with powdery white cheese, beans and rice. Comfort food at its best.

The Baby Shark ($20)—yes, named after the children’s song—is actually monkfish stewed with guayanés cheese, caramelized coconut milk, ají dulce paste, ripe plantains and jasmine rice. It was a creative interplay of sweet and salty.

Overall, sophisticated plating techniques—bright splashes of orange with hints of earthy greens—make it clear you should look beyond the country’s excellent street-food options and consider its lesser-known fare for your next dinner. Sure, some dishes needed more measured seasoning, but much like at home, tinkering is to be expected.

Details

Address: 148 Meserole St
Brooklyn
11206
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