by Jac Bergenson

With a name like Cosimo’s, it’s Italian or bust.

Cosimo’s in Poughkeepsie–one location of the Cosimo’s Restaurant Group that includes local favorites such as Cosimo’s on Union and Torches on the Hudson, both in Newburgh–offers a delightful twist on traditional Italian dining.

The décor of the restaurant is a true standout. Easy to miss going northbound, the restaurant is nestled in a little corner just off our Route 9. Inside, the wine barrels, stocked bar and dim lighting over terracotta hues give Cosimo’s the feel of a Tuscan winery. On a Thursday night, the dining room was packed to the gills, and my guest and I had to wait about twenty minutes without a reservation.

We were then seated adjacent to the bar, where large televisions broadcast the college football game of the day (I do believe it was the Texas A&M vs. Alabama upset, but I digress). To our left was a table of young hipsters who sang along with me as Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” came on, and to our right was a roundtable of elderly gentlemen and ladies. It was telling; good food will draw crowds of all ages.

My guest and I started with the Grilled Tomato Bruschetta appetizer. Bruschetta is something so simple, but so easy to get wrong. A good bruschetta comes from the quality of the ingredients and confident seasoning. We received two pieces, each with melted, fresh mozzarella over the top. The bruschetta was served over what appeared to be pizza dough, which was surprising. I would have preferred the traditional Italian bread. Nonetheless, it was flavorful, and though it wasn’t extraordinary, it was worth ordering.

For dinner, my guest and I each had a pasta dish. Hers, the Grilled Chicken Penne, came with the aforementioned chicken, as well as Roma tomato, basil pesto, and calamata olives. The dish was flavorful and delightfully light, since pesto can be overpowering if used too liberally. The main component, the penne, was a perfect al dente, and I had no complaints about the chicken.

My dish, the Sausage and Ricotta Fusilli, came with a house-made tomato sauce, crumbled Italian sausage, and herbed ricotta cheese piped over the top. The sauce had a perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and the ricotta was the highlight. They did not skimp on it, but I would have gladly eaten more. I found myself running out of ricotta well before I finished my pasta. Overall, it was light on the sausage, but the ricotta cheese more than made up for it.

I drank a Samuel Smith Imperial Stout with my meal, in a bottle. My server left much of the beverage in the bottle when she poured it. The beer did not have the thick, foamy head that I would expect from a stout. The beer had a unique taste to it, not unlike an oyster stout I sampled months ago, and I would order it again. If stouts are not your cup of tea (or glass of beer, if I’m being literal), there’s a decent mix of craft brews and domestics available. Additionally, the wine list is understandably extensive.

The service was unintrusive. In fact, it was largely non-existent. Our server was friendly and accurate, but I would have appreciated a stop or two more to check up on us.

This visit, paired with previous visits to the restaurant have left me with a positive impression. The chef has designed–and executed–a fantastic Italian menu, and for those with allergy concerns, such as my own sister who has celiac disease, there is a complete, gluten-free menu, as well as a kitchen that allows for many substitutions. Cosimo’s in Poughkeepsie is certainly worth a regular trip.

Rating: 3.5/5