It is no secret that Somerville continues to be one of the hottest places to live in the Greater Boston area, if not all of New England. With new development seemingly taking place everywhere in the city, much of the "old" Somerville continues to disappear, including some of the old neighborhood bars which have been slowly but surely going away. A few decades ago, there were countless dive bars and local watering holes here, but now, only a few remain including the Sligo in Davis Square, The Pub in Ball Square, and Casey's in East Somerville. And it is this last spot that is the focus of this review, and while some may call it a dive, those who say real dives can't have good food will say it isn't, as the place has outstanding takes on at least two popular food items.
Casey's is located on a stretch of Broadway that runs between Monsignor O'Brien Highway on the eastern edge of Winter Hill and Route 93 near Sullivan Square, and this part of the road--which cuts through the heart of East Somerville--used to be a bit rough-and-tumble back in the day. And even though it is seeing a bit of new development and gentrification like so much of the rest of the city, Broadway remains home to a number of independent businesses that bring back memories of the past. Casey's feels completely in place here, as it looks partly like a dive and partly like a basic neighborhood bar from the outside, and its interior continues this theme, with a bar area to the left that caters mostly to locals, a plain-looking and often-empty dining section to the right (a small area set aside for live music takes up part of this section), a jukebox in the back, and hints of Keno everywhere, including servers who sometimes use Keno slips to write down food and drink orders.
Many people come to Casey's mainly to drink, as it is one of those old-school places where people might go after work to down a beer or spirits (or both) on the way home, and its menu tends to reflect this, with much of it dedicated to bar bites. Here you will find the usual potato skins, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, wings, nachos, burgers, hot dogs, etc., all of which go well with a pint or a shot. But Casey's harbors a bit of a secret, or perhaps two secrets, as their steak tips and pizza are among the best in Somerville, and beyond for that matter. The grilled steak tips represent everything you would want in a tip--a moderate amount of char, a tangy marinade that doesn't overwhelm the flavor of the meat, and a lack of gristle while also having just enough fat to add flavor. It would not be an exaggeration to put these tips at the same level of the greats such as the Newbridge Cafe and Floramo's in Chelsea, which is indeed saying a lot for those who have been to those spots. As for the pizza, do not expect bar-style pizza here (and bar pizza really is more of a South Shore thing) but instead, more of a classic foldable thin-crust New York-style pizza that isn't all that different from the temporarily-closed Bianchi's in Revere or the vastly underrated Newtowne Grille in Cambridge. Because the steak tips and pizza are equally great at Casey's, it is probably best to get one order of each for the table, or maybe two orders for bigger groups, because you really don't want to miss out on either of these items here.
Casey's isn't a flashy place by any means and you won't see lines out the door or much of the "new" Somerville crowd here because it really is just a humble neighborhood drinking establishment--nothing less and nothing more. But it is a spot that lovers of steak tips and pizza--and yes, lovers of dive bars as well--need to get to, as it is one of the few remaining throwback places left in the city, and a very, very good one at that.
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