Tucked into a small shopping plaza off of Tampa Road in Oldsmar, you’ll find this family owned, authentic Italian piece of paradise, Casa Cosenza. I had the great honor of dining here on Saturday night and can’t wait to return.
J. and I walked in and were warmly greeted by the owner, who recognized J. from his visit there the week before. They were crowded, but a few tables were quickly taken apart to accommodate our small party. The atmosphere here is warm and comfortable, with wooden floors, and white tables and chairs, it feels like a small summer cottage. A large bookcase in the back of the restaurant is home to many travel books and a large screen TV that plays scenes of Italian cities and countrysides while soft Italian music plays in the background. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see some pasta made first-hand in a small corner near the kitchen.
We were served complimentary bread and oil to start. The menu is full of authentic dishes (and in authentic Italian!). They are very accommodating with their menu as well. Their goal is to create the best experience for you, so if there is something you may want but not see on the menu, just ask! We asked if they could make us a fresh caprese salad and they happily obliged. While hard to go wrong, it was probably the freshest tasting caprese salad I’ve ever had.
J. ordered the “risotto cacio e blend 5 pepe e sesamo” (risotto with cheese, 5 different types of pepper (seasoning), and sesame). The dish was heavenly. The rice was soft and every bite just melted in your mouth. There was a nice sweetness, toned down by the pepper, that made this dish very filling. It was topped with large cheese crisps that added that bit of texture you wanted. Our waiter recommended a glass of the montepulciano quattromani red wine to pair with the risotto. The wine was heavy, but smooth, and paired nicely with the pepper of the risotto and helped balance out the sweetness.
I went for the “pasta fresca del giorno” (homemade pasta with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, parmesan and pecorino cheese). I couldn’t wait to try that homemade pasta and it did not disappoint. Boxed pasta just does not compare. It was not overdressed with sauce, and the tomatoes added a nice pop of fresh acid. A simple dish, but pasta shouldn’t be overly complicated. I ate every last bite.
Along with their food made fresh daily with authentic ingredients, you just know that a lot of care, pride, and love is going into everything that is served. Their own website says it best – “In our cooking we use only the finest ingredients imported from Italy, and all our dishes are made fresh to order because we are dedicated to sharing with you what real Italian food tastes like.” This is not your quick get in-and-out type of restaurant. Come here to sit and stay awhile. Relax, enjoy yourself, your company, and your food. It won’t disappoint.
Until next time!