Cosca Restaurant is a recently opened Italian resto located within steps of English Bay, Vancouver on Denman Street. This resto brings a rustic charm to this area with its cozy atmosphere, romantic setting and dark wood décor by Nicole Eve Quinn. The idea is to bring you back to Tuscany for some authentic Roma Italian food and more. It’s no doubt that patrons often walk by and are drawn in. Tables line the left and a well-stocked bar on the right.
Cosca is a Sicilian Mafia term; by definition meaning clan/family that claims sovereignty over an area (bogata). This is also represented by the artichoke symbol – “a thistle that is hard and protective on the outside by as you peel back the layers you eventually get to the heart”
I was delighted to be invited to Cosca to have a taste of their robust menu along with a few other foodies. We started off with drinks and appies.
The French Connection
Initially I had no idea what was in my drink. All I knew that I really liked the sour tart taste and it had a highly aromatic honey fragrant. I later discovered that it was gin shaken with elderflower and fresh lime juice.
Fresh herb bread were served with balsamic vinegar and dipping oil.
Roasted eggplant, basil marinara, smoked mozzarella. Large eggplant deliciously roasted and complimented well with the thick tomato sauce and melted cheese – adding flavor on the otherwise bland eggplant.
A cold appi with marinated stem artichoke heart, crispy pancetta, shredded ricotta salata, vine tomato. Ricotta cheese and marinated tomatoes were refreshing and herb infused olive oil added seasoning.
The star of this appetizer medley dish was the artichoke – The Articicocco Moederno e Roma where the artichoke is steam with a dipping sauce dating back to 77AD and a modern sauce. It is deliciously marinated and a soft artichoke heart. Served together with …
Proscuitto Melone – San Daniele proscuitto, arugula and melon. This was an experiment that I wouldn’t have thought of mixing prosciutto together with melon. The salty meat was reduced with the sweet tasting melon. Light and refreshing
Tender sautéed calamari, tomatoes, garlic, capers, olives. The calamaris here are sautéed not breaded and fried. It was tender and the tomato broth was spicy. I liked the added heat to this dish
Funghi Selvatico Wild
Basically a wild mushroom flatbread with caramelized onions, pecorino, cream sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. This was a nice change from the tomato dominated dishes previously savored. Served with a bed of fresh spring greens.
Next stop: Specials of the night
I generous portion of pan seared red snapper on a bed of linguine with white wine, fresh garlic, fresh herbs and served with broccolini. The fish was herb crusted and well-seasoned but slightly salty. It was a nice combo with the light tasting linguine. If only the linguine could have been more al dente.
Risotto Di Giorno
Risotto of the day was duck breast with orange, saffron and golden beets. I had high hopes for this dish but unfortunately my expectations were too high. I found the duck to be tough. There were parts of it that I could not cut easily with my dinner knife – perhaps a steak knife would’ve done the trick. The risotto did not have the a supple, fluid creamy texture but with body. The creaminess of the rice was overpowered by the infused orange zest and saffron. If you eat the duck, the golden beets together with the rice, all the components blend much better and the experience is much more enjoyable than picking at each individually.
Lamb Osso Bucco with Potatoe Gnocchi
This lamb was delicious – soft, tender, and juicy where the meat falls off the bones! Tomato sauce brought out the flavor of lamb and gnocchi was able to absorb all the seasoning. Served with red onion baby spring greens salad.
One of my favorites. I must say I have a soft side for mushrooms and truffles. This dish was pungent with every bite. Roasted red bell peppers and red wine grated cheese sauce was rich and smooth. I hadn’t realized this until afterwards but it wasn’t ravioli but fresh egg pasta instead. Again, I wish the pasta to be more al dente.
Squid ink pasta, diver scallops, pesto cream, BC salmon roe. The scallops were beautifully seared, crispy on the outside yet juicy and tender inside. I couldn’t get enough of these scallops! Pesto cream was delicious against the light tasting squid ink pasta.
Cosca also offers Pasta Platters of your choice of either 3 or 4 pasta pairings. This is so incredibly wonderful when you want to sample a bit of everything!! Also available: substitute gluten free or whole wheat pasta.
As if we weren’t already satiated, next comes desserts!
- Pappardelle Boscaiola – Fresh egg pasta, wild mushroom ragu, smoked mozzarella, truffle oil
- Spaghettini Bolognese – Rich vegetable meat sauce, parmigiano
- Cannelloni Cosca – Roasted veal and root vegetable stuffed cannelloni, marinara, fonitna
- Vanilla Crepe with Strawberry Jam
Now for a brief interview with Weldon Stevens:
What inspired you to open Cosca? And why specially on Denman?
I recognized a need for an Authentic Italian in the Denman Davie area. Providing a hangout for locals to sit down for dinner, offering unrivaled Italian food in the area or just a hang out at the bar.
What experience did you want the customer to feel with the interior design?
I really wanted rustic charm. Locals are often coming back or heading to Tuscany. Nicole Eve Quinn`s design really gave us an atmosphere that`s unique and cozy.
What is the best way to describe the menu? It seems to be classic Roma Italian.
Simply put; Authentic and rustic Italian food offered at very affordable prices
What is your signature dish on your menu?
That is always a question that people ask. I have no specific dish that`s THE ONE signature dish. Chef Alen Kero offers so many choices that stand out. Offering 16 pastas, its tough to choose one signature dish. My personal favorite is the Pappardelle Boscaiola…
What sets Cosca apart from the competition?
- Amazing and authentic Italian Food. Ask any of our locals
- A truly unique room offering a very rustic feel that`s cozy and inviting offering a retreat from the dark black, dark brown or red colours you often see in a typical restaurants around Vancouver
- Warm personable staff that are down to earth, know your name and offer unrehearsed service
- We serve food till midnight 7 days a week
- A wine list that`s approachable and made for any occasion
Who is on your team? And would you please tell us a brief background about the owner / chef? I was hoping to find this on your website; unfortunately I couldn’t find it.
- From the back house to the front, the staff personalities are as authentic as the food. Everyon has been in the business 10+ years. Not one member of this team is just another pretty face.
- Chef Alen Kero grew up in Zadar, Croatia. The oldest port city in the country across the Adriatic from Italy. Chef Al spent 12 years in New York – Little Italy and Manhattan.
- Mike Mitton has been a successful Restauranteur in Vancouver for many years; owning numerous successful restaurants: Allegro Café (the original Crime Lab), Lucy Mae Browns and Century House.
- Weldon Stevens has worked some of Vancouver`s most established restaurants and has been in the industry 25+ years.
What is your philosophy in running a successful business?
Any restaurant is food first and Cosca is no different. The best way to describe my philosophy is written on the dinner menu: Cosca. Meaning clan or family that claims sovereignty over a territory or village … For us it symbolizes the village in which we serve and cultivate our relationship with our clan (locals)
Be sure to swing by next time you are in the area to say hi and stay for some food, a drink or just some delicious Tiramisu!