Within the city limits, at the end of Falls Road and near the neighborhood of Hampden, lies Cosima, a hidden gem in Mill No. 1. Keep your eyes peeled for the signs directing you down a steep driveway between the mill buildings that leads you to the restaurant’s front door and free valet parking. We almost missed it the first time!
Specializing in Southern Italian cuisine and owned by local chef Donna Crivello, Cosima is elevating beloved dishes with fresh combinations and eye-catching presentations that reflect the owner’s Sicilian grandmother. The restaurant is housed in what used to be a boiler room and has retained much of the brick work and a few pieces of the old machinery. Don’t let the centerpiece of skinny breadsticks on the table fool you into thinking they’re a decoration, you can eat them!
To start the meal we said an enthusiastic yes to the two offered varieties of homemade bread, one a focaccia with black olives, the other a crusty Italian bread, both freshly baked and served with creamy herbed butter.
In time honored tradition we each picked an appetizer to share with the table. The gnocchi is served in a small rectangular cast iron skillet piping hot from the oven, coated in a beautiful golden layer of breadcrumbs and dotted with herbs.
A favorite is always the burrata and this was no exception. It’s creamy and was the perfect consistency to spread across the Italian bread drizzled in olive oil, sea salt, and vin cotto, then topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and basil. You get a little bit of salty and sweet in each bite.
If you’re also a fan of charcuterie, you can’t miss with the cured meats and aged cheeses with house made duck fat crackers and dried apricot mostarda. This appetizer goes well with any of the restaurant’s fantastic craft cocktails, most notably the Spritz and Abbella.
The highlight of the meal for me was my entrée, the Fettucine Nero con Aragosta, a grilled half lobster, house made cuttlefish ink pasta, and charred tomato lobster sauce. Our waitress made sure that the requisite claw cracker, shellfish fork, and bowl were present and you want to make sure you use them to get the sweet claw meat or you will be missing out!
The contrast of the inky pasta against the brilliant red of the lobster makes for a beautiful dish but it was somewhat marred by the dearth of sauce that was pored over the lobster itself. Regardless it was tough not to over indulge in every single last bite of pasta and save some room for dessert.
One of Cosima’s most interesting dessert offerings is the sfinci, Sicilian doughnuts brought to the table in a paper bag, shaken up in a bath of cinnamon sugar and served piping hot. These are airy and light treats that put doughnut holes to shame. They also offer their own twist on the classic Italian cannoli and have several flavors of gelato along with a moderately sized menu of rotating desserts.
Out of all the Italian restaurants I’ve visited over the years, Cosima is by far one I hope to find myself coming back to again and again to feel like I’ve gotten a little taste of Sicily.