Lakeview Parkway in Albertson’s Shopping Center, Rowlett TX
I’ve eaten a lot of Italian food in lo, these many years I’ve been on the planet. I would have to say I think the meal I had last Friday night at Cosa Nostra was overall the best I’ve ever had. We decided to try it out because our friend (and Mayor of Rowlett), Todd Gottel, raved over this restaurant. His extravagant praise turned out to be no exaggeration. Be forewarned: the setting isn’t elegant – but once you’ve taken the first bite, you won’t care.
First, you get a basket of mouth-watering obviously-homemade twisted garlic rolls. Now, bread is my weakness, so I might be a little biased, but I thought there were fantastic. They’re similar to the rolls at Valentino’s, which I also love, but these are even better.
The menu is extensive, so much so that I had a difficult time deciding what to order. Tom stuck with an old favorite, calamari fritte, for an appetizer. I like calamari, but I can get that anywhere. I went with the spinach roll – which turned out to be much more food than I expected. Had I known then what I know now, I would have just let it be my entrée.
This is basically a small loaf of bread that’s stuffed with spinach and cheese, wonderfully seasoned. Some restaurants are stingy with the cheese, probably due to cost, but not here; the cheese oozed out when you cut into the roll and there was just the right balance of cheese, spinach and bread. It’s served with marinara sauce but I didn’t touch it; I didn’t want anything to come between me and the delicious pure taste of the roll’s ingredients.
My entrée was chicken fettuccini with spinach (yes, I like spinach a lot), fresh mozzarella chunks and pesto sauce. There was a lot of grilled chicken and although you couldn’t see it at first due to the pretty stacked presentation, there was a lot of pasta under there, too. It was delicious, but I finished less than half of it, after eating the large spinach roll – and wanting to save some room for dessert. I took the rest home and had another whole meal from the leftovers.
Tom ordered the lobster ravioli. When it came out, I thought at first he’d ordered soup – that’s how much sauce there was. He didn’t offer me a taste so I can’t really say how good it was, but judging by the way he scarfed it down, and then mopped up every last drop with some of those wonderful garlic rolls, I feel pretty confident in saying he liked it.
The owner, Dino, is a man who is obviously completely dedicated to what he does and the love and caring that’s put into making the food comes through in every bite. His place encompasses everything I love about the Italian people, their gusto for life that they aren’t afraid to express even to strangers. We had never been there before, but he acted as if we were old friends, coming around to the table multiple times to ask how everything was, refilling water glasses himself, and just generally making customers feel cared for.
At just the right time, he appeared with a “to go” box for the remainder of my fettuccini, saying, “I read your mind.” I said, “Okay, then tell me what I want for dessert.”
“Tiramisu!” I’m not sure how he knew, but he knew. And a few minutes later, delivered a plate with a two forks and a large slice of the very best tiramisu I’ve ever eaten. Not that I’ve ever had bad tiramisu; it’s one of my favorite desserts – but this went just a little further; the mascarpone layer was just a little creamier, the ladyfingers were just a little tastier, the coffee flavor came through just a little more. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in savoring every bite that I forgot to take a photo of it. But then, that serves as an excuse to go back and order it again soon.
I’ve complained many times about the shortage of good restaurants in Rowlett, so I’m extra pleased to have one that I can recommend without reservation. Speaking of reservations, we went early on a Friday evening (5:00 p.m.) and only a few tables were filled when we got there. By the time we left, the place was crowded, so you might want to call ahead if you’re going at a more traditional time on a weekend night.
The only not-so-good part of the whole experience was finding the restaurant. The address that’s given on the web site at costanostragrill.com, 8120 Lakeview Parkway, either isn’t correct or both Google Maps and Bing Maps have it wrong. Both mapping apps took us to a location several blocks west of the actual location and on the opposite side of the street. I finally had to call the restaurant and ask for directions. So don’t trust your GPS to get you there.
But it’s well worth the trouble of finding it. If you live in Rowlett, do yourself a favor and have dinner there – soon. If you don’t live in Rowlett, it’s worth the drive. If you can’t take the time off to go to Italy right now, this is the next best thing.