I was informed today that La Castelana on Transit Road is closed(ing) – if it hasn’t already.
Growing up, this was “the other parmed pasta joint” in town and one of my favorites. Home to many cheap first dates for us Cheektowaga folks, it was cash only, and had the perpetually 58 year old blond hostess that treated everyone like crap and stared you down if you asked for more bread (warm Costanzo sub rolls and those frozen packets of butter. You know this program).
This was my red sauce joint growing up. Stuffed Shells, Lasagna, Choice of pasta (ziti was an extra 50 cents) and all the standard fare. You could dabble in the smother with cheese game and broiler Parm (see photo) anything you wanted for an extra couple bucks, get meatballs, and/or sausage, and/or mushrooms on top of anything, and the portions were big enough to split and take some home. Remember the eppie roll? Baby Jesus wrapped in dough. With a side of marinara.
The sauce was that super sweet tomato paste style, and the only salad dressings were Regular Italian (in a cruet) and creamy Italian. Plastic plaid tablecloths, and tables that needed a matchbook to stay level with those shitty metal/vinyl chairs and/or white plastic outdoor patio chairs.
Box wine. Pre-made desserts. Pasta cooked until it was flaccid and dead. Veal Marsala with canned mushrooms. All of the classics. This joint was reminiscent of every Italian Food experience that I (and most western NY’ers) ever had or wanted to have up until the last decade or so when I really got into cooking. I really loved this place without pretense.
Godspeed grumpy Italian lady at the hostess station that treated me like crap when I only had a debit card and no cash on me and embarrassed me in front of my dates back in the day. Your Manicotti (pronounced MAN IH COT EEE) with ricotta cheese (pronounced RICK COT AH) will forever live in my heart, and on my shirt.
Also, Welcome to Dine On It.