Originally created 05/16/03

All tastes served in Casi's Kitchen



We're thrilled that Augusta has become such a cosmopolitan dining center that it's easy to find specialized cuisine.

You have a choice of French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Cuban, Thai and Indian, all within a 10-mile radius.

But as much as we appreciate specialization, we also enjoy the retro experience of visiting a restaurant that offers everything but the kitchen sink. Casi's Kitchen on Wrightsboro Road is all over the map, yet manages to put a sophisticated stamp on every dish. Unexpected touches abound, and every carefully conceived entree seems like a signature dish.

Entrees include Spanish, Mexican, Italian and New Orleans dishes. The menu also includes extensive multicultural appetizers, soups, salads and desserts.

We started with a pass-around appetizer of nachos ($6.95), served with shredded chicken, guacamole, cheese, homemade salsa and sour cream. The serving was gigantic and the taste combination was sensational.

The initial serving of salsa was a bit chintzy, but the server readily supplied more. (Note to servers: The salsa is so good that requests for refills are practically a given.)

Next came entrees, shrimp fajitas ($13.95) and New York strip pizzailoa ($14.95). The fajitas consisted of fresh shrimp sauteed in olive oil, garlic, onions, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes served with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and flour tortillas. They were bursting with exceptionally prepared seafood.

The 10-ounce strip steak, sauteed in olive oil, garlic and tomato sauce, was perfectly cooked and served with tender asparagus, potato balls and julienned carrots.

Our desserts, orange-flavored creme brulee ($4.95) and Spanish flan ($4.25), were creamy and dreamy.

Presentation was flawless, and the clutter-conscious server was friendly and efficient. We would appreciate larger drink goblets, which would require fewer refills. Also, a word about Casi's parking lot: It desperately needs repaving and spaces were narrow.

All in all, Casi's displays a deft touch with an international flair.

ON THE TOWN

THE EATERY: Casi's Kitchen, 3112 Wrightsboro Road

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 6-11 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday

PHONE: 364-8260THE VERDICT: Sophisticated flavors that are all over the map. **** out of *****

Mary Deriso is the retired general manager of the Pinnacle Club, a private dining club in Augusta. Christine Hurley Deriso is a writer whose children's book, Dreams to Grow On, is available in local bookstores and on Amazon.com./b>