Cosi Cucina Italian Grill

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by Kelly

Good place to meet for a date, great food.

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by Locavore0970

Cosi Cucina makes you feel like family. In the recent years I have become determined to only frequent locally owned businesses and Cosis shines. I can order and dish anytime and enjoy it immensely. My friends and myself are always made to feel like we are the only guests there and the "Cosi" part of Cosi Cucina rings true. They have recently added to go ordering online, and you receive a free bottle of wine with any order over $40.00. This makes it even more true that there is never a bad time for any of my favorites. The calamari melts in your mouth, the potato ravioli is a perfect combination of hearty and savory, and finishing up with their unmatchable cheesecake is a little bit of heaven. I can stop anytime pick this up indulge myself in the meal all the while sipping on the wine they gave me complimentary as a thank you and all the while planning my next visit to Cosi Cucina. You should be planning yours too. Thank you Cosi Cucina for making it an easy choice anytime I'm dining out, and more making me feel like family.

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by Average

The food at Cosi Cucina is excellent, truly Italian. However, our service was terribly poor, at a time when the restaurant was less than a third full. It was evident that the server wanted us to be on his time clock, and wasn't responding to our simple requests. Our salad was delivered after our main dish, without a question of whether we even still wanted it or not. Our experience lasted over 2 hours and we missed our second engagement of that evening. I strongly suggest ordering carry-out.

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by Hungry

I love this place. The service is unbelievably wonderful, the food is amazing. I would eat here every meal if I could. They have an excellent selection of wine, and the service truly cares if you enjoy yourself. Two thumbs way up!

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by Bret

We gave Cosi Cocina a second try. The service was lackluster yet again. The waitress disappeared for long periods of time and the restaurant didn't even seem that crazy busy.

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by Bret

The app (Calamari) was excellent! Our experience went downhill from there. My entree (Gorgonzola pasta) was cold on arrival. When I pay $15 for an entree at an italian restaurant, I'm accustomed to getting a side salad with my dinner. Cosi Cucina does not offer you one. We sat for for close to 15 mins two different times with empty glasses before we were offered a refill. It was not crazy busy so this was not acceptable. In addition, the furnce was not working that night and it was freezing at our table. To end the night, it took our waiter three attempts to get our bill right. As we were leaving, the manager asked us how our meal was and we were honest. He graciously gave us two $20 gift certificates. We'll give Cosi Cucina another try (hopefully with a different waiter).

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by AmandaLynn0220

Great restaurant! I love their menu and atmosphere. A good choice for a nice meal.

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by jess

I have enjoyed Cosi for many years. I don't know that it's particularly romantic (better so requesting a booth), but the food and service are typically excellent. I love the smoked chicken pasta, and all the specials we have tried have been excellent. I do think it's annoying that the bread is cold, which is a minor thing but it is clearly better warmed. It doesn't seem like something you should have to ask for, they should just serve it warmed as they once did. The cheesecake is awesome. I can only think of one visit where the service has been less than impeccable, and he was clearly new, so that's a pass. Overall, a safe bet for a nice meal, and usually not much of a wait.

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by satisfied

always great service and food is excellent!
LOVE it, wouldn't go anywhere else..

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by Samuel

I don't understand how this place is supposeably the "most romantic" restaurant in town. I dined there for the first time ever with my girlfriend about a month ago and we were laughing how we have been to sports bars that were more romantic. The tables are just way too close together so it feels like you are dining with everyone around you instead of just with your significant other. The interior isn't as classy as I thought it would be and it honestly looks a little run down. It reminds of a place where your grandparents go to because they think it's romantic but it really isn't. Also I don't know if it was just a bad night, but most of the clientele in there were wearing clothes like they were going to McDonald's to eat and not a supposed classy joint where you should dress nice. I felt way overdressed in just slacks and a dress shirt. The food wasn't really anything great either. I guess people like it because it's locally owned, and they aren't some chain resturant, but I would rather go to Sam & Gabe's any day than this place.

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by Mary

The only thing wrong with this restuarant is that it need to be bigger, for more people to enjoy!

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by Lady Sehkmet

We live over 60 minutes outside of Des Moines, but we still manage to eat at Cosi at least 4 times a year because it is that good. I have brought many of my formally loyal Olive Garden friends over to the wonders that are this restaurant. Their different salad options, great pastas, superb wine list, and of course, desert, make it a have to go spot. We have never had a bad meal there and look forward to eating there again. For Italian food, I feel Cosi is the best.

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by Satisfied Customer

One of the best.

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by Regular Customer

I have been going to Cosi Cucina for years. It is indeed my favorite restaurant. I love their food for its many flavors and unique tastes that I think anyone would enjoy. Everything is made from scratch and tastes so good. Their service is phenomenal always attending to your needs and they know the menu very thoroughly. Since the mall Jordan Creek Town Center has opened their business has dropped because of all the new restaurants. I have noticed they aren’t so busy anymore. I think people need a reminder of Cosi’s because I want them to stay around and I think other people do as well. So if you are ever looking to try out a good Italian restaurant try out Cosi Cucina's I think you will leave more than satisfied.

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by Phylis

Des Moines is a city that has more restaurants per capita than almost any other city in the US, and being a person that loves to eat out, i have tried just about all of them. But in my opinion none deserves my repeat business more than Cosi Cucina. It's not only the best italian dining in town, i would argue that its menu with the fresh made ingredients and most everything prepared in house is among the top of any restaurant in des moines. It holds its own among the new big corporate restaurants that have invaded the market and far surpasses their attempts at choice italian dishes. The food itself is reason enough to fall in love with this quaint local restaurant but the true charm of Cosi's is the extra commitment to service and ambiance that this restaurant consistantly offers. With a staff that is both knowledgable and attentive, a night out at Cosi's is never sub-par and is the first place i choose to bring out of town guests and people new to the des moines area. I love this restaurant and i know that there are a great deal of people in des moines and the surrounding areas that would agree that Cosi Cucina is a diamond in the rough of des moines dining and deserves to have its praises sung over and over again!

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by Renee Streeter

I would first of all like to compliment Cosi Cucina Italian Grill on not only their commitment to service of their clientele but also there exceedingly generous commitment to the local community especially Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa. In a previous review a comment that stood out to me was that of their no longer being a wait to get in to this gem of a restaurant. Well with over 10,000 new seats open just in the last year in Des Moines and surrounding communities, one would be hard pressed to find an hour wait at most restaurants on the average evening. I for one would not pick my dining experience by how long I have to wait, after all Ryans Steak House has a wait all of the time if that is what you are looking for. My loved ones and myself have been dining at this locally owned restaurant on a very regular basis since its opening in 1993. The Ziti Cucina and other signature italian dishes are VERY CONSISTENT and the bread can always be served warm at the smallest request. The beef they serve is so tender it can be cut with your fork and all of the desserts, especially the cheesecake are one of a kind. Most of the staff have been with the restaurant since the beginning and that not only says something about the ownership, but also makes you feel like you are part of a family. Cosi Cucina was the First Des Moines restaurant to serve olive oil and pepper as an accompaniment with the bread which we all know now to be a lovely addition. The staff is not only knowledgeable in every aspect of the menu, but also in the vast selection of wines. It is the perfect place for a romantic evening, a large family gathering, or a simple night out with friends and family. My family and I have always made it a priority to dine at locally owned establishments so the money we spend stays in our community and although Des Moines has a lot of wonderful choices in this category Cosi Cucina is our favorite.

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by A and D

"A" and "D" wish to correct an error in their January 5th review below. We regret the misunderstanding.

The chef at Cosi Cucini is no longer Doug Smith, who sold his portion of the ownership of the restaurant in 2003. Chef Smith informed us he had had a wonderful ten years at the restaurant but sold his interest in 2003.

Both "A" and "D" now better understand the variance in food quality over the past year or so, as we remarked in the review; however, it is not due to Chef Doug Smith, rather perhaps because he is no longer in command of the kitchen.

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by A and D

Cosi Cucina Italian Grill
Lunch and Dinner, daily

Both “A” and “D” have been regular customers of Cosi Cucina for a number of years, and this is a difficult review to write because it is one that must comment on the dining experience and quality over time, rather than a single experience fixed on a single visit. In fact, this review is so important to us, that “A” and “D” will each write a separate review rather than their usual combined profile.

“A’s” Review

Reviewing Cosi Cucina is a bittersweet proposition. There is still so much to like about the place such as the always present banks of gladiola in the windows and fresh flowers on the table. Lighting in the room is subtle and very appropriate if you are looking for a spot that evokes romance. The service at the restaurant is done by seasoned professionals who make you feel like you are almost family. The welcome is warm, sincere and starts off your dining adventure on a very pleasant note. They know the specials of the day and let you know what they are and the price before you get too far into the menu.

“A” has eaten at Cosi for many years for both lunch and dinner engagements. Until recently, each trip has been good to exceptional. The last two or three trips, however, have left “A” feeling like the chef is either resting on his laurels or is not inspired to deliver the kind of cuisine formerly anticipated and enjoyed at Cosi Cucina. At both lunch and dinner, Cosi’s was always packed with diners who were willing to wait over an hour for a table. On recent visits, there has been no wait for a table.

The most recent outing brought “A” the chef’s special for the evening, Steak de Burgo served with potatoes Dauphanoise and green beans, according to our waiter, and a Caesar salad. Cosi has always been famous for their triangle shaped dinner rolls served with a splash of infused olive oil. They still get high marks however it seems they used to be a little more dense and chewy and served a little warmer. The Caesar salad is really a sad concoction of limp romaine tossed with a creamy style dressing that lacks the bite of garlic or anchovy one expects from this dish. On one outing, the anchovies served on “D’s” Caesar salad were considerably past their prime and were definitely candidates for the kitchen disposal.

The Steak de Burgo was cooked to the desired medium rare requested, however the sauce had none of the characteristics of good de Burgo. The sauce was watery and totally lacking the snap and luster of the garlic and olive oil or butter that one expects from Steak de Burgo. Perhaps there was a miscommunication between the kitchen and the wait staff but the “potatoes Dauphinoise” were really a very poor execution of Dutchess potatoes. Potatoes Dauphinoise are sliced and scalloped, usually with Gruyere cheese. Dutchess potatoes are mashed with cream and garlic, piped onto a plate and browned. The mound on “A’s” plate was not artfully piped and the potatoes and had been overly baked until they were dry and flavorless. Cooking green beans to the perfect texture is also something that should be expected at a restaurant of Cosi Cucina’s reputation and history but alas, “A’s” were undercooked and cold.

“D” ordered a Caesar salad and the penne with sausage sauce, Cosi’s signature pasta named Ziti Cucina. “D”s comments about the Caesar echoed “A’s” findings. The penne pasta tasted as though it had been cooked for quite a while, left to sit on a prep table and reheated prior to being sauced and served. It tasted doughy and overcooked. The menu item boasted Graziano sausage in the sauce however its quantity was negligible. On a previous Sunday lunch outing, “D” ordered the salmon in cucumber sauce. The salmon was not as fresh as it should have been and the plate was awash in a flavorless, milky fluid floating a sea of cucumbers. Pale fish served on a white plate with white sauce does not an interesting entrée make.

We don’t know whether some of the luster from the kitchen has disappeared due to a decreased number of diners. The plethora of new eating establishments on Des Moines west side and Cosi Cucina’s weekly discount coupon hype and increased hours indicate they are feeling the pinch. We will probably continue to review it periodically to see if Cosi Cucina returns to the glorious days of its beginning with inspired food, beautifully prepared and served. What they are churning out these days is a disservice to its fans and certainly to a talented and eager wait staff.

“D’s” Review

Cosi Cucina is entering the 13th year since its opening by chef and owner/co-owner Doug Smith. In 1993, Smith was doing highly innovative things like featuring organic ingredients, using unknown-to-Des Moines ingredients such as ramps, and introducing Cleverly Farms’ artisanal salad greens. The cuisine style was an exciting ‘Cal-Ital’ and Chef Smith quickly captured the interest and loyalty of Des Moines diners, winning praise for both his dishes and the romantic nature of the restaurant’s ambience.

The restaurant has a wood-fired oven in the middle of the dining room and was among the first locally, perhaps even in the Midwest, to serve the interesting west coast style pizza that has since swept the country. Good wines, a unique and exceptionally intimate full-service bar, a well-trained wait staff, and high-quality dishes using the best ingredients were the hallmark of Cosi Cucina.

“A” and “D” have observed, since about 2003, changes in some of the hallmark expectations of dinner at Cosi Cucina. The opening of chains such as Biaggi’s, Bravo!, Granite City, and other large-format restaurants has created competition for share of the diners’ wallets and, seemingly, has put pressure on Cosi Cucina for customer loyalty. What we believe we are observing is the timeless tale of the intrigue of the ‘new’ versus the ‘old,’ especially when the old restaurant doesn’t update and allows itself to become caught in a cost-cutting spiral in an attempt to remain competitive.

On three dinner experiences, we have been served dishes that are not up to the standards that were the hallmark of the recent past. On one lunch experience, the quality and preparation was actually disappointing. Service has remained excellent; on every visit, we have been made to feel welcome and appreciated. But, something is amiss with the quality of the food.

We dined on a Wednesday evening, about 6 p.m. Again made to feel welcome, we were seated and Steve, a long-time waiter with excellent skills, immediately began his attentive, knowledgeable and professional service. “A” had a glass of a Steve-recommended St. Supery cabernet; “D” had a favorite Peppi sangiovese. Both were served in elegant, over-sized stems that amplified the aromas of the wines and the wine service. The cab was $10 a glass; the sangiovese, $6.

Peppi is an interesting and inexpensive sangiovese (available at about $7 at J.T’s Wine and Spirits on E.P. True at 50th Street in West Des Moines) and is one of the first California wineries to totally adopt screw-caps over the traditional cork. “D” applauds this as at least ten percent of all bottles using corks opened over the past few years have been corked and have had significant levels of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) in the wine. Corked wine containing TCA has a characteristic odor, sometimes described as resembling a moldy newspaper, wet dog, or damp basement, but in every instance something other than what is desired in the wine experience. Cork taint destroys the wine's aromas, and even a very lightly tainted wine is completely undrinkable (although harmless). “D” has never experienced TCA with screw caps and is a firm believer in this newest wine bottling technology. But, back to Cosi Cucina.

Bread was brought to the table, the signature restaurant-created rustic triangle rolls with peppered olive oil dip. These are served from a large wicker basket; in years past, they were served warmed from the oven. The olive oil on the table is unfiltered, infused with herbs, buttery and flavorful. Steve used the bread service time to thoroughly explain the evening’s featured dishes which he does in an interesting way that shows genuine understanding and interest and not just ‘The Script of the Day.’ “A and “D” both chose the calamari with aoli sauce as a shared appetizer and creamy Caesar salads as starters. Steve said he would check on entree selections after the salad course, a nice touch and one that encourages relaxed dining.

The calamari is breaded and lightly fried. The strips are flat and cut into ½ inch thick slices. We may be wrong, but the squid tastes and feels like a processed product, perhaps a calamari-like prepared frozen product, similar to ersatz-crab. This was “D’s” third attempt at this appetizer in three years and it is the same dish. Calamari has little distinctive taste to begin with, but the preparation should instill several layers of flavor to be accented by the aoli dipping sauce. The breading on this dish is unremarkable, actually a bit soggy and lifeless. The lobster ravioli, scallops or portabella mushrooms may be better appetizer alternatives.

The Caesar salad is an enigma. We have a chef who pioneers Cleverly Farms greens, yet the romaine lettuce in the Caesar is limp, warm, uncrisp and uncool. This is the third Caesar with the same shortcomings, so this is a problem not an oversight. The cream dressing is so heavy on the romaine as to totally overpower any other flavors that might be present, such as garlic and anchovy. The pine nut salad or Gruyere salad are better choices and tend to please consistently.

Post-salad, the entrees were ordered. “A” chose the featured dish, Steak de Burgo and “D” chose the house signature pasta dish, Ziti Cucina, a penne and blush sauce with Graziano sausage. A second glass of the St. Supery and the Peppi accompanied the entrée.

The Steak de Burgo is well-described in “A’s” review accompanying this one. The Ziti Cucina was, frankly, surprising. The pasta was overly glutenous, an indication of pre- and over-cooking. How can this occur in a good Italian restaurant? A number of clumps of three to six penne clinging tenaciously to each other were found in the dish, an unheard of, basic, pasta no-no. The blush sauce is flavorful and excellent, but the always delicious Graziano sausage was a mere hint in quantity, not a hearty and plentiful addition. The smoked chicken and pasta may be a better choice. On other visits, “D” has had the excellent pork Marsala and was pleased; the 8 oz. Iowa-raised ostrich was interesting but overdone. It is worth trying if it can be moisturized and served medium. The wood-fired oven pizza is very good and is always a top choice here.

Cosi Cucina can do better. It must do better. It has a distinguished history of doing better and loyal patrons who want it to do better. If I were to suppose reasons for the shortfall in quality of the dishes, it would be inexperienced kitchen staff. Certainly, not the chef, but the line assistants. What is happening seems to be a lack of attention to excellence and a lack of attention to excellent ingredients; that is unfortunate. The dinner was $100 with a generous gratuity for excellent service, but the dinner was not a $100 value, not even a $70 value with these disappointments.

Rating: 2 Maybe
Quality: Fair
Value: Fair
Recommended: Provisionally
Alternatives: Tursi’s Latin King, Bravo! Cucina, even Biaggi’s

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by Amber

If I were basing my rating on only the cheesecake, I would definitely give it 5 stars! Cosi has a nice ambiance and a great menu. The wait staff is knowledgeable and always friendly. My only (small) complaint is that the bread isn't usually warm when they bring it to your table. It's one of my favorite restaurants in des moines. I would reccomend this to anyone looking for a great authentic italian dining experience.

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by injekted

If you're looking for a great italian place, check out Cosi Cucina. I tried the rigitoni with italian sausage and it was amazing. For my girlfriend and me, it was $33 with tip, and we both went home with leftovers. My water glass was never empty, but the waiter wasn't overly friendly.

Overall, it was a very nice place. I would definitely go back again.

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Tips for Cosi Cucina Italian Grill from foursquare users

Kelly B.

Best cheesecake in town.

3 people have done this

Aysia Phone l.

Loooooove the cheesecake!!!!

1 person has done this and 1 other wants to

Benjamin J.

High Roller @ Cosi tonight? Order the Dom Perignon 1995 vintage and bet they cut you a deal on it!

1 person has done this

Jason C.

Wonderful calamari. Very tender, so tender it's hard to believe it's calamari!

1 person has done this

Kurt F.

Try the Pepperoni & Geaziani's Sausage Pizza and spot it on Foodspotting!

1 person has done this

Johnny B.

Their calzones and homemade Alfredo sauce are amazing!

1 person has done this

Abby R.

Get the ziti Cucina pasta, it's addicting! Don't leave without cheesecake!

1 person has done this

Matt B.

Get the gorgonzola salad and the ziti cucina. 2 of the best in des moines!

1 person has done this

Jeff W.

For the appetizer I ordered fried calamari and for dinner I ordered the rigatoni entree with the addition of italian sausage. I was very impressed with my selections and would suggest this to anyone!

1 person has done this

Paul B.

I love the new shrimp scampi. Anything pasta from Cosi is a winner.

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