All this reading has probably made you "hungry" to visit Casper. I’ll tell you about some great food and drinks that you can partake of here. One of the interesting aspects of Casper is that, while the city is dear to its roots of the Old West, a certain cosmopolitan feel can be felt in the air. Casper carves out its own culture in the heart of Wyoming. Its restaurants are proof of this fine dining that, while not the cheapest, is still worth a bit of splurging. Casper can even boast of a couple of eclectic bistros that emanate that “big city” feel.
Tasty Sauces Abound at Botticelli Ristaurante Italian
One of Casper’s best Italian restaurants, Botticelli, has that old country feel, an intimate atmosphere. Enjoy a few festive Sopranos-like dinner music throughout your eating experience. The restaurant has a full menu of antipasti, pastas, meat and chicken dishes. What stands out for me is the great flavor of their sauces and vegetables.
For appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the Merende, a large plate of Italian meats, cheese and heavy doses of marinated vegetables, the best part of the dish. Those peppers, greens, eggplant and summer squash have a kick to them, thanks to the deliciously prepared marinated sauce. I also enjoyed a large glass of sweet cherry Italian soda containing half and half cream, before dinner.
For the main course, I feasted on the Vitello Picatta, lightly salted but tasty veal, penne pasta, smothered in a rose sauce (a tasty blend of Alfredo and marinara sauces). The vegetables with this course and with the appetizers, were fresh – incredible for wintertime!
For dessert, get the spicy Spumoni Italian ice cream, full of mint, strawberry and chocolate.
Botticelli offers a fine selection of wines and coffees, including half price wine on Tuesday nights.
Botticelli Ristaurante Italiano is at 129 W 2nd St., Casper, WY 82601. Telephone: 307-266-2700.
Surf and Turf Action at the Fire Rock Steakhouse
Wyoming is known for ranches, making this state a beef eater’s paradise. The Fire Rock Steakhouse & Grill, recently opened, July 2006. It provides an intimate “Industrial Western” atmosphere, high ceilings to absorb the noise level. It’s a bit more of a splurge than the Outback chain, but well worth the money. The restaurant serves top quality beef that’s been aged for three weeks. You will have no problem finding a wide selection of steaks and other meat dishes, as well as seafood, pasta and salad.
I chose the surf and turf. I began with the grilled crab cakes that came with tartar and cocktail sauce. The outer part of the cakes was crispy; the inner part tasted light and smooth.
For my main course, I had to try the Fire Rock Meatloaf. It’s smothered in a tangy barbeque-like sauce instead of ketchup. The taste was more like tender boneless ribs. I got quite full – grilled onions, mashed potatoes and bread served up like a mountain. Initially, as part of the entrée, I was served a creamy soup loaded with chicken and mushrooms, spiced just right, delicious.
For drinks, there are more than 25 different kinds of wine selections, plenty of mixed drink and beer offerings, including several non-alcoholic like the imported Kaliber, medium to strong aftertaste.
For desserts, you can choose from several, including the Crème Brule and the Muddy Mountain Flourless Chocolate cake.
Staff is friendly and attentive.
The 303 Restaurant: Casper’s Version of Midtown Manhattan
When you enter the 303, you’ll feel you’re in both the past and the present. There’s Big Band and Swing music, a futuristic motif you’d expect at a swanky Midtown Manhattan restaurant, without the more expensive prices. The 303 has quickly established itself as one of Casper’s premiere restaurants, definitely worth a splurge for even budget travelers – for the atmosphere alone! This jet-setting spot was once a grocery distribution center and publishing company. It’s named for its numerical street address on South Wolcott, one of Casper’s oldest streets. The 303 offers lunch and dinner choices on menus whose covers are made of cork (and more detailed than their online menu). Options include a good range of seafood, burgers and pastas for lunch, to more elegant and quantitative selections for the evening (real Buffalo Tenderloin from South Dakota, as well as Petite Beef Wellington).
I had lunch, started with a tasty cottage salad, full of fresh greens, Roma tomatoes, English cucumbers, smothered in Bleu Cheese dressing, the way I like it. They serve two kinds of menus for lunch: Pub, (Reubens, burgers, fish and chips), and Bistro, (Smoked Salmon Pita and Flat Iron Au Poivre steak, for example). For dessert, I added a bit of weight by feasting on the delicious Mexican Chocolate Mousse, cayenne and chipotle seasoning dotted with a raspberry.
Drink selection is wide – beers, microbrews, five-plus pages of wine selections (a menu in itself). The service is quick and friendly. I strongly advise men wear at least a collared shirt and slacks for dinner; women a bit more than tourist casual.
The Metro Coffee Company’s Gathering Spot
The Metro Coffee Company is one of Casper’s top hangouts for both the younger generation and adults. The atmosphere is energetic, especially when a local artist is holding a special art showing or musical performance. The soft and comfortable couches help enhance your beverage and dessert enjoyment. There are even a few computers, free web surfing and WIFI.
Coffee selections abound. The Metro’s dessert offerings include cheesecake, cookies and brownies. What impressed me the most was their wide selection of top quality teas. The Metro specializes in brewing a smoked Chinese tea called Lap Sang Souchong, smells like the smoke emanating from a fireplace. This tea is purported to be good for colds and can be used as a marinating sauce.
Moody Brews: Gelato Alternative to Italy
Yes, Moody Brews offers a bistro atmosphere with an abundant selection of coffees, espressos and mochas. It also has a plentiful bistro menu – breakfast, lunch and dinner, including Fresco and Panini sandwiches, crepes, soups and salads. Yet, this isn’t what makes the place special to me.
I’ve never tasted better gelato, and I’ve been to Italy twice. Moody Brews prides itself on making fresh gelato in 12 cream and citrus flavors (changes regularly), from Watermelon and Pink Grapefruit, to Pistacchio. It’s the Pistacchio Gelato that I want to brag about. I had two servings! It has a rich khaki green flavor and color, a strong pistachio taste, tapered perfectly in sweetness, with some gummy consistency within the bites.
The bistro offers free WIFI, open mic sessions for local musicians and poetry slams for writers. You may be entertained if you drop in at the right time. Check the website for performance schedules.
Roy’s Travel Tips
Casper has a four-route public bus system that covers the city. It’s called the Casper Area Transportation Coalition (CATC). Here’s their website.
My first and second Casper articles are at the following links.
Roy A. Barnes writes from southeastern Wyoming and is a frequent contributor to BootsnAll.