Although it's not as consistent as it once was, Casamento's--a big, long room covered with enough spanking-clean Art Nouveau tiles that it looks like a gigantic bathroom--is still a first-class vendor of oysters. They're terrific in either raw or fried form; no small number of patrons start with the first and finish with the second. The oyster loaf here is not a poor boy but a sandwich made on thickly sliced, toasted, buttered "pan bread." Other local seafoods are also fried with the same deftness. No such thing as tepid, soggy, or greasy trout or soft-shell crabs here. The french fries are among the best in town--cut from fresh potatoes and fried to order. The Italian dishes are completely forgettable--red sauce piled atop white spaghetti.
Casamento's is a specialist. While it cooks the full range of fried seafood, it's primarily a place you go for oysters. They are of excellent intrinsic quality, and are fully satisfying whether you eat them raw, fried, or in a sandwich. The unique premises also endears the place to the hearts of New Orleans eaters.
Second only to the Acme in age among New Orleans oyster bars, Casamento's was founded in 1919. The third generation of the family is in charge now. They're as noteworthy for their quirks as for the goodness of their food. For as long as anybody remembers, they've closed the entire summer every year. They are also doctrinaire about their hours, locking the doors on the dot.
The tiled walls and floor make it look like a kitchen, or an old-time barbershop, or perhaps even an extra-clean bathroom. Those tiles are genuine Newcomb pottery, made and installed before it was famous. Two rooms of all that, with the oyster bar in the front and the kitchen all the way in the back.
Start with a dozen raw. This is a good place to have raw oysters for the first time. Know that the oyster loaf here is made with "pan bread," a standard white loaf cut into large slabs, toasted, and buttered. Go somewhere else for spaghetti.