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  • Restaurants
  • Two Bridges
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Casino
    Photograph: Courtesy of Alex Staniloff
  2. Casino
    Photograph: Courtesy of Alex Staniloff
  3. Casino
    Photograph: Courtesy of Alex Staniloff

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A stylish, self-billed northern Italian restaurant from established NYC hospitality pros.

Racing through downtown around rush hour, via any means, save for maybe, a private zeppelin, is an unwelcome pulse quickener. Do it in service of reaching a hard-won restaurant reservation as the blocks seem to grow longer and the minutes shrink, and cortisol spikes even higher.  

But Casino is calming. Counter to a place with all the makings of a so-called hotspot (blocked bookings, media mentions and the frequent companion of both, PR), the ambiance is chicly easy. Greetings are inviting to the point of delightful distraction from those last heated strides outside. And there is a clear objective to welcome guests into Casino's esteem, with tremendous success. It's is among the most seemingly breezily hospitable hospitality operations in recent or outstanding memory. 

Aisa Shelley, partner in similarly categorized cool bars Primo’s and Mr. Fong’s, opened this self-billed northern Italian restaurant with chef Ken Addington (whose résumé includes Strangeways, Soho Diner and Five Leaves) in December. The bright, mostly white and very airy space up front has a smattering of seats at its petite bar and cafe tables between chairs and long benches, all intended for drop-ins. 

The back seats 70 across roomy rouge booths and a zig-zag of two and four-tops, all lit by slightly Beetlejuice-adjacent light fixtures that make pretty starburst patterns on the walls. The dining room also does cute by its white tablecloths. The recently beleaguered textiles are draped with more casual self-confidence here than most of the forced, confused efforts I’ve seen bumbling genres elsewhere lately. 

The menu’s more of a gamble. The crudo appetizer ($21) is excellent. Its amberjack, bathed in fermented fish sauce with basil, radish and chili, has a nice little heat that still keeps the fish’s freshness and expected buttery elements intact. The ‘nduja bread starter/side ($16) is as pleasant as it is puzzling: perfectly pillowy Parker House rolls sprinkled with what tastes like the best available bacon bits, rather than spicy, spreadable pork sausage. Its accompanying Calabrian chili honey butter, however, packs a pinch of that expected low spark. 

Pappardelle ($28) is listed among a trio of pasta options, this one served with smoked lamb from the kitchen’s cherry wood-burning oven. The meat is exceedingly mild, sapped of its pungency and almost absent its gamier notes, while the noodles skew a fraction softer than ideal. Altogether, it still passes the comfort test, and many will likely find it fine, but it’s a forgettable dish in a city with plenty of competitors. 

An abundant lobster cioppino ($48) is memorable for all the wrong reasons. It is beautiful to behold; bountiful with black bass, clams, crab, mussels, shrimp and its titular ingredient in saffron fennel broth. The liquid vehicle’s a smooth enough ride, but its passengers seem to have been boarded simultaneously, without regard for their disparate desired cooking times. My first bite was what must have been shrimp, though I’m meeting the toughest crustacean I’ve ever pierced more than halfway in making that assessment. Whether it was prepared on the surface of the sun or plunged into its fluid grave too soon is a vexing bet. The lobster fares a bit better, but might do more right coated and served on a roll. 

Dry-aged duck breast ($38) is a decent redeemer. I’ve seldom seen a duck I didn’t order, and Casino’s is a satisfyingly mid-range offering, with an acceptably crisp surface, serviceably rendered fat and mauve, prudently juicy interior. It is also more generously plated than most, and easy to share as a main for two.  

That small bar creates some great cocktails. The Casino cosmopolitan ($18) is a zag from the standard with framboise mixed with its citrus vodka and triple sec for a distinct riff on the perpetually almost-trending tipple. It also makes classic Manhattans ($14) and martinis ($18) to bet on. 


The Vibe: Welcome home to a casually glamorous abode.

The Food: A crapshoot, with wonderful crudo, comforting pappardelle, serviceable dry-aged duck and lobster cioppino to avoid. 

The Drinks: Fantastic cocktails, plus wine and beer. 

Casino is located at 171 East Broadway. It is open daily from 5pm-midnight. 

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako


171 East Broadway
Opening hours:
Daily from 5pm-12am.
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