This restaurant is young, but performs like an old pro
By Greg Sabin
Casa East Sac, a not-quite-year-old restaurant at 54th and H streets, is gaining fans. Whether it’s locals walking and biking on beautiful Sacramento nights or folks driving in, the restaurant has a robust following and fills up nearly every service. Impressive.
OK, I’m a pushover. Children’s magicians delight me. I love community bands. I’m easily swayed. My wife is not. And yet she considers Casa one of her favorite restaurants. Even more impressive.
Brothers Steve and Ted Gibanov started Casa in September 2022, taking a space that turned over twice in four years. The brothers’ vision works. Casa is the first restaurant they started together.
“It was a bit like Goldilocks,” Steve tells me. “We’d been looking for places and they were either too big or too small, and this spot seemed just right, just what we were looking for.”
What they wanted was a comfortable, high-quality, unfussy restaurant experience that kept quality ingredients and good cookery at the forefront. They looked for a neighborhood bistro with strong Italian/French/American inspiration.
Both brothers have worked at kitchens in Sacramento and the Bay Area. Despite their Russian heritage and love of family recipes, they enjoy making classic fare in the California restaurant tradition.
“I’m an old-school fanatic,” Steve says. “I think honest food, generous portions and quality ingredients are the not-too-complicated secret to a great menu.”
His menu demonstrates those beliefs. A handful of small plates and salads, including a plate of deviled eggs made with care, creamy and tasty, is easily accessible. A half-dozen pizzas come out of Casa’s pizza oven, produced with skill and mostly classic toppings.
“There’s something about watching someone really enjoy a pizza, you know?” Steve says. “When you’ve got that dough just right, it’s magic.”
The entrees are about as old-school as you can get: steak of the day, pasta of the day, catch of the day and roast chicken. That’s it. What else do you need? House-made pastas. Perfectly grilled steaks. A nice piece of fish. A perfectly crispy bird.
On our most recent visit, my wife and I opted for the ribeye and seasonal salad with peaches and arugula. It was one of the best steaks I can remember, buttery and peppery, cooked to a textbook medium rare. The average-sounding roasted taters and string beans served alongside were without flaws. The salad hit every point, with early season peaches getting a small sugar assist from a sly balsamic dressing.
We grabbed a piece of tiramisu for dessert. This house-made treat did not disappoint. The sweets were sweet, the fluffy parts fluffy. The flavors sang.
But the truly impressive part was Casa was down two servers that night, with a full house. The Gibanovs called their sister Dominique in from Chico to help. The place should have been falling apart. Yet, Steve checked on every table, every water glass got refilled, every diner had a smile.
A heroic effort by the whole team. To pull that off, on a Friday night for a young restaurant is impressive. There’s no other word.
Casa East Sac is at 5401 H St.; casaeastsac.com; (916) 898-3702
Greg Sabin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.