Walking into Cosmo’s Cucina you can see why it would be so crowded.
Located on the corner of Vine and Locust street off of Westnedge Cosmo’s is definitely a bit off the beaten path of restaurant areas in Kalamazoo and definitely resonates more of a vibe as the neighborhood spot to go. Entering through the lower level of the historic Kalamazoo building and through O’Duffys Pub there were Halloween decorations in the window, paired with lights and people packed in together talking loudly and drinking. I noticed there was no TV in the bar which struck me as different, but at the same time a blessing. This little building seemed to be a haven from the pressures of the outside world. To get to Cosmo’s we had to walk through this bar area, past the bathrooms and upstairs to the restaurant in an even more seemingly different world. Upstairs was an escape from the loud crashings of the bar downstairs.
The tables were situation 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 The brick walls give the room a sort of classic, historic feeling without being outdated.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 was an eye into a fast paced world where delicious smells were wafting out with each dish that left the kitchen. It is the perfect atmosphere for a cold fall night.
The wait staff was incredibly accommodating, as it was raining outside last Friday, and we were forty minutes late for our reservation due to an accident in the rainy Michigan weather. For any of you that know I-94, you know how much of a nightmare driving can be. They held the table for us and thanked us for calling to let them know. They sat us immediately next to a stained glass window that overlooked the street below. The room was humming with good vibes. Looking over at the table next to us a party of four was exclaiming about the goat cheese appetizer while gesticulating wildly with their arms, wine glass in hand.
The appetizers we ordered arrived promptly and began with Zucchini Fritters. The Zucchini was shredded and pan seared with fresh dill, feta, and served with a yogurt and cucumber sauce. The Zucchini had a smoky flavor that could have been confused with being burnt, but the cucumber sauce was brilliant, cold, and refreshing.
A harvest salad was then swept over to our table with fresh greens, walnuts, and soft butternut squash. The menu was infused with squash and other seasonally fresh ingredients. The vinageratte was tasty without being overpowering.
We ordered the Italian Bread that was warm and crusty and served in a paper bag, tied with thread. The dipping oil was a plate of olive oil, decorated with herbs, and a balsamic oil reduction. It looked so well done that I hated to ruin it with the bread. But after one bite I kept tearing off pieces to swipe across the flavorful oil.
After a little while of waiting, and conversation our meals arrived after much deliberation over what to order. It was difficult to choose between noodle based dishes, risottos, and braised pork tacos. Looking around, it seemed as if we could not go wrong. Most of the customers in Cosmo’s were hungrily eating whatever was placed in front of them with smiles, usually engaged in conversation with the people at their table.
After asking the waiter for the absolute best thing in the restaurant at this particular time, we decided on plate one that was a special for the evening. It was a plate of scallops in coconut curry broth, pan seared with summer squash, limes, and carrots. The waiter informed us that they were cooked in a cast iron pan that was older than me. They tasted sweet and spicy and were the perfect amount of tough, fleshiness without being too chewy. The blend of fruits and vegetables that the scallops were cooked with added to the delightfully unexpected punch of flavor.
Plate two was an avocado burger. With a toasted bun, the Kobe beef covered in an avocado, corn blend salsa with Chihuahua cheese. Biting down I literally had to wipe my chin from the juiciness of the meat, a burger at its best. Right next to the burger nestled under a blanket of sea salt and spices were redskin potatoes with just a little crunch to them, they were definitely a filling addition to the meal.
Plate three was homemade pasta with prosciutto, asiago cheese, and basil. Tangled together with sweet peppers, and halved cherry tomatoes it was a colorful and fall esque dish that didn’t disappoint. Slurping up the noodles with the pepper and cheesy flavors was absolutely delicious and there was plenty to take home for leftover deliciousness.
The menu at Cosmo’s Cucina is drenched in these different blends of creative flavors with fresh ingredients. Cosmo’s website states that they work under the goal of bringing creative and affordable food to Kalamazoo, and I believe that they have achieved this goal. The meals ran from about $14.00-$20.00 with appetizers anywhere from $3.00-$10.00, which I find 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. I believe these are the best types of foods, dishes that you never would have thought to make for yourself. 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.
When we walked back out into the rainy, fall night we left feeling full and recharged. Cosmo’s was definitely an experience that blended creativity in a comfortable environment for anyone who enjoys fresh and flavorful meals that they couldn’t just whip up at home without some effort.
I plan on going back to try more tastes off the menu soon.