If you’re in the mood for tapas and pinchos with a modern twist to the traditional Spanish tasca, or pub, in the Boston area, look no further than Casa B. Located in Union Square, Somerville, Casa B is the creation of husband and wife duo Alberto Cabre and Angelina Jockovich, whose take on tapas is highly influenced by their respective upbringings in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Barranquilla, Colombia.
The name dissected as “Casa” (or “home”) and “B,” comes from Chef Alberto’s maternal grandfather Ernesto Bobonis, who played an important part in passing values and traditions on to the family.
Upon entering Casa B, the upstairs lounge showcases a clean, contemporary feel with a row of mirrors on the walls to add depth to the warm atmosphere. Complementing the lounge, the underground Taverna has soft-playing music, ample tables and an open kitchen concept with snug bar seating where diners can watch the chefs at work and interact with them, too. The crisp white walls are offset by splashes of color in another bar area separated from dining by a see-through wall of wine bottles. On the opposite side of the wine wall is the dining area, which has a “jungle-like” backsplash, and modern light fixtures to create a relaxed ambiance.
The menu boasts seafood, meat, vegetable and sampler plates, but is different from other tapas restaurants due to its blended Latin American and Caribbean influence. We enjoyed complimentary fried plantain chips (inspired by the Latin American twist) with an asparagus-avocado dipping sauce and a glass bottle of water. The combination of the crunchy chips with the fresh dip created the perfect balance of salty and savory flavor.
In addition to the complimentary food, the staff was very detail-oriented and friendly and made us feel right at home. Our waitress discussed her own connection to some of the tapas and drinks on the menu, which really brought the passion behind the cuisine to life.
While the cocktail menu features the typical Mojito and Sangria, we opted for Peruvian beer Cusqueña and Brazilian-based Caipirinha, a cocktail made with cachaça (sugar cane rum), sugar and lime. Descendants of ancient Incas brew the Cusqueña, a malt lager that has a crisp, spiced, but delicate flavor. The Caipirinha’s lime accents were bold and we could definitely sense the sugar, but it was well balanced to avoid being overly sweet. Both drinks offer diners the chance to try something they may not experience otherwise.
We started with three tapas (a good share for two): Albóndigas (meatballs in a red sauce), Alcapurrias De Carne (a root vegetable fritter with Piccadillo beef), and Buñuelos (Colombian cheese fritters with a roasted pepper aioli). The meatballs were bite sized, rich in flavor, and engulfed in tomato sauce with cilantro for an added kick. The vegetables and hint of raisins in the Alcapurrias combined nicely with the beef. The Buñuelos had crispy texture and full cheese flavor, which was complemented well with the roasted pepper aioli for added taste.
The interactivity with Casa B’s chefs made for a very unique experience. The ability to ask the chef’s opinion on a particular dish was also quite refreshing. Additionally, the simple, elegant presentation of the tapas demonstrates the chefs’ careful attention to detail.
To satisfy one final craving, we shared a Tostada de Plantano (plantain pizza with cheese and tomato). The thin crust and bold flavor of the plantains topped with a soft cheese, tomatoes and cilantro, was a creative variation of the standard pizza.
Holding true to its name, Casa B creates a very familial, comfortable setting in which guests feel as though they are home, or even perhaps traveling through Latin America. The cozy atmosphere, delicious cuisine influenced by Latin American accents, warm décor and attentive staff make this modern “tasca” a place great for a date, or a visit with family and friends.
Casa B, 253 Washington St., Somerville, 617-764-2180; www.casabrestaurant.com