Located on the corner of Vine and Locust street off of Westnedge, Cosmo’s Cucina is a bit off the beaten path of restaurant areas in Kalamazoo. Cosmo’s resonates with more of neighborhood spot vibe, and upon walking inside one can see why it is so crowded.
Cosmo’s Cucina is definitely an experience that blends creativity in a comfortable environment for anyone who enjoys fresh and flavorful meals.
The menu at Cosmo’s is drenched in different blends of creative flavors with fresh ingredients. It falls under the categories of Italian inspired, farm to table (but not exclusively), and is reminiscent of Food Dance with an added home-style feel.
Entering through the lower level of the historic Kalamazoo building and through O’Duffys Pub there are Halloween decorations in the window, which is appropriate for October, and they are paired with lights and people packed in together talking loudly and drinking.
There is no TV in the bar, which is different for most bar scenes, but in this location it is a blessing. The little building that houses both O’Duffy’s and Cosmo’s seems to be a haven from the pressures of the outside world. To get to Cosmo’s it takes a walk through the bar area of O’Duffy’s, past the bathrooms and upstairs to the restaurant in an even more seemingly different world. Upstairs at Cosmo’s is an escape from the loud crashings of O’Duffy’s bar downstairs.
The tables are situated comfortably close together with candles on each one. The brick walls give the room a sort of classic, historic feeling without being outdated. The small window into the kitchen at the back is an eye into a fast paced world where delicious smells waft out with each dish that leaves the kitchen.
Cosmo’s is the perfect atmosphere for a cold fall night.
But it is also the perfect atmosphere to cultivate new flavors from the expected flavors that restaurant goers are so accustomed too.
The wait staff is incredibly accommodating, holding tables for customers that are late coming out of the rain, and seating them immediately at one of the tables next to a stained glass window that overlooks the street below.
The room is humming with good vibes. Looking over at a party of four the customers are exclaiming about the goat cheese appetizer while gesticulating wildly with their arms, wine glasses in hands.
The appetizers arrive promptly and begin with Zucchini Fritters. The Zucchini is shredded and pan seared with fresh dill, feta, and served with a yogurt and cucumber sauce. The Zucchini has a smoky flavor that can be confused with a burnt taste, but the cucumber sauce is brilliant, cold, and refreshing.
A harvest salad is then swept onto the table with fresh greens, walnuts, and soft butternut squash. The menu is infused with squash and other seasonally fresh ingredients. The vinaigrette is tasty without being overpowering.
The Italian Bread is warm and crusty and served in a paper bag, tied with thread. The dipping oil is a plate of olive oil, decorated with herbs, and a balsamic oil reduction, looking so well done that it is a shame to ruin it with the bread. But, after one bite it is difficult to stop tearing off pieces to swipe across the flavorful oil.
After a little while of waiting and conversation, the meals are ordered after much deliberation. It is difficult to choose between noodle based dishes, risottos, and braised pork tacos. But, looking around, it seems as if it is impossible to choose wrong.
Most of the customers in Cosmo’s are hungrily eating whatever is placed in front of them with smiles, usually engaged in conversations with the people at their tables.
After asking the waiter for the absolute best thing in the restaurant at this particular time, and being told the right choice is a special plate of scallops in coconut curry broth, pan seared with summer squash, limes, and carrots, the dish is soon brought to the table. The waiter says that they are cooked in a cast iron pan that is older than a nearby customer. They taste sweet and spicy and are the perfect amount of tough, fleshiness without being too chewy. The blend of fruits and vegetables that the scallops are cooked with add to the delightfully unexpected punch of flavor.
Plate two is an avocado burger. With a toasted bun, the Kobe beef is covered in an avocado, corn blend salsa with Chihuahua cheese. Biting down the burger breaks causing a chin wiping juiciness to leave the meat, a burger at its best. Right next to the burger are redskin potatoes with just a little crunch to them, nestling under a blanket of sea salt and spices. They are definitely a filling addition to the meal.
Plate three is homemade pasta with prosciutto, asiago cheese, and basil. Tangled together with sweet peppers, and halved cherry tomatoes it is a colorful and fall esque dish that doesn’t disappoint. Slurping up the noodles with the pepper and cheesy flavors is absolutely delicious, and there is plenty to take home after the meal.
Cosmo’s website states that they work under the goal of bringing creative and affordable food to Kalamazoo, and they have achieved this goal. The meals run from about $14.00-$20.00 with appetizers anywhere from $3.00-$10.00, which are reasonable for the amount of quality and quantity that is served on Cosmo’s plates.
The menu is completely based off of new blends of flavors that are unexpected, but make perfect sense after hitting your tongue. These are the best types of foods, dishes that never would have been created in the average kitchen.
Scanning over the menu, the hungry eye picks up words like grilled, garlic, veggies, cracked pepper, Brie, flavorful, and the food follows through on these claims, leaving the eater food-inspired.
Leaving Cosmo’s and walking back out into the rainy, fall night there is a full and recharged feeling that is present with Cosmo’s customers.
They are already making plans to return to try new and different flavors.