Casper & Gambini’s

In the heart of ABC mall, just in from the hustle and bustle of milling shoppers and walkers, Casper & Gambini’s offers a pleasant retreat from the noise and haste. With elegant yet funky interior décor, plenty of shady outdoor seating and a mouth-watering menu of international cuisine, the place draws you in like a magnate.

With three branches in Beirut alone, the Casper & Gambini’s chain is by now a well-known and well-loved fixture of the Beirut culinary scene.

“About 80 percent of our clients are returning customers,” says Pascal Srougi, General Manager of the ABC Achrafieh branch of Casper & Gambini’s. “We work hard to make a good first impression on every new customer who comes to us, and as a result our customer loyalty is very high.”

The venue isn’t a restaurant. Nor is it a café. It caters to the B+ and A customer bracket but beyond that, appeals to no particular group and is embraced by youth, families and more elderly clients alike.

If you weren’t hungry when you sat down, you will be after thirty seconds of perusing the menu. From fresh, delicate salads to succulent entrees – top picks include the Chicken Under a Brick and the delicately flavored pesto chicken pasta – the range of dishes takes you on a geographical whirl-wind tour of the globe, from Italy to America to Lebanon. Dishes meld fresh vegetables with top-end meats and finish with a strictly Lebanese flourish (be sure to try the sun-dried tomato pasta with skewers of cherry tomatoes and halloum cheese cubes). Don’t overindulge, though – you’ll want to sample their page of desserts as well. And no one should pass up a cup of C&G’s specialty coffees.

“Mainly we work with Arabic coffee. Our signature blend is a mix of coffees from different countries: Brazil, Costa Rica and Columbia,” says Srougi. “Our aim is to produce the best coffee possible.”

While the venue offers some specialty flavored drinks, the coffee itself is good enough that for coffee connoisseurs, the best option is not to dilute but to opt for espresso or straight, black American brewed coffee.

During the week, and especially during the weekend, C&G does a clipping business and its tables are often booked solid. To increase customer comfort the chain has adopted a pager system to alert customers when there are tables available.

Casper & Gambini’s has been evolving its look over the last decade. The previous slogan of “A taste of tradition” has been replaced by “A taste of quality,” and the interior décor has been modified – the subtle browns and grays of the past replaced by metallic blue and funky, refined artwork – to draw a more diverse clientele. Today, the restaurant is popular among all age brackets, for all hours of the day, and whether you’re looking for a quite cup of coffee or pleasant lunch with a friend, it’s got something for you.