Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Out of This World Italian at Cosmo's?

Cosmo's Italian Kitchen
23411 Aliso Viejo Parkway
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

I read lots of food blogs. I like being in the know on what's going to be opening, closing, and what are the latest trends. I read all of the posts that the great writers put up at Stick A Fork In It. They do a great job of keeping all of us from OC up to date with the food happenings around here. One of my favorite writers there is Dave Lieberman.

Not only a great writer, but a good guy as well. I had the privilege of meeting him once at an event, and we talked about numerous things. The one thing that stuck out for me was that he offered me $5 if I could find something worthwhile to eat in Aliso Viejo. Being put on the spot, and even later when I could not think of anyplace, I put it in the back of my mind to take that Lincoln bill from his wallet. Every time we eat in the AV, I always have it in the back of my mind that this is could be, "the one". That is what I was thinking when we came to Cosmo's in Aliso Viejo.

Cosmo's is in a little strip mall, away from the larger shopping center of the area, the Aliso Viejo Town Center. Cosmo's has been around since 1998. They have two locations, with their other location being in Las Flores.

We arrived at the restaurant at 7 on a Friday night. Prime dining time for sure. We had about a twenty minute wait. Once inside we were treated very warmly. The place was packed and loud. Tables are very close together. After checking out the large menu, we made our selections, and this is how it all came to our table.

Here is a quick look at the bread basket. Nothing to crazy about it. We were all very hungry, so we made quick work of this basket. The bread was soft and went well with the olive oil and vinegar. 

This wonderfully plated dish was the Mozzarella Caprese. Not really my kind of appetizer, but they all liked the freshness of this plate. Fresh buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes, olive oil, and basil made up this good sized appetizer. More than enough for three people to share.

At Cosmo's they really like to garnish their appetizers with almost a whole salad in the middle of the plate. The Britt's Bruschotta, Toscana Style was no exception to this. Fresh tomato was joined by garlic, green onions, and herbs on toasted bread. We all really liked this appetizer. The flavors melded well together, and the fresh ingredients really made the plate come alive. 

Matt and I both got salads to go along with our meals. He went with the John's House salad. This one came with red onion, shaved Parmesan, and vinaigrette. I had the Caesar Salad, which was your basic Caesar. I did like the amount of dressing that they use here, but I usually like more than the average person. This salad could have used a little more cheese, but the croutons were pretty good here. 

This odd looking dish was Katie's selection, the Rotelle Emiliana. Described in the menu as rolled pasta with spinach, ricotta cheese, and Parmesan, with a tomato cream vodka sauce. I am very against adding to menu items in restaurants, but she wanted chicken added to this dish for some reason. The chicken was added to the outside of the dish, and was on the lukewarm side. I give Cosmo's credit for doing what the customer wants, so they get no knocks for the chicken. However, the rest of the dish had temperature issues as well. Katie called this meal, "unremarkable". Based on the bite I had of this, I would have to agree. I liked the sauce, but there was nothing going on with the pasta. 

A much better meal was Stacy's pick, the Pasta Rustica. This familiar sounding plate included bow tie pasta, chicken, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and mushrooms in a roasted garlic cream sauce. The sauce really clinged to the pasta well, and the taste was right on. All of the items in the bowl worked well with each other to make this the best plate of the night. Good picking Stacy!

Both Matt and I went with the same thing here. At least it is less typing for me. I do not know why I always gravitate towards Carbonara's, because it is a tough dish to make me happy. At Cosmo's the carbonara is made with spaghetti, cream, butter, Romano cheese, peas, eggs, and prosciutto. This meal was very ordinary. The prosciutto was way too mellow. Bacon would have added some much needed salty goodness here. The sauce was creamy, but was very plain tasting. Pasta was cooked fine, but I would opt for something different here on future visits. 

We were with Matt, so of course dessert is a must. He selected the Cheesecake. This cheesecake was pretty good. Not chalky like some can be. It was light and had a good milky flavor. The graham cracker crust was good, and helped break up the taste of the cheesecake. 

You can never go wrong with Chocolate Bundt Cake, but when ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce are added it makes it even better! The cake portion of this was moist and very chocolaty. The ice cream enhanced this as well. Could have used a little more ice cream, but when would that ever be a bad idea? Solid dessert. 

After eating at Cosmo's, I can safely say that Dave's $5 bill will stay in his wallet for now. The food was not awful, but nothing that is jaw dropping. The menu items we had all were pretty average, but lacked the wow factor. Service was very good the night we were here, and it was very busy. Pasta dishes run about $14 on average, and are a little overpriced for the serving sizes that you receive. Still on the lookout for the best of Aliso Viejo, so get that $5 ready for me Dave.

Out of five coffee table books, (because the character Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld authored a book about coffee tables in season 5), five being best to zero being worst, Cosmo's gets 2.5 coffee table books.

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  1. I work in Aliso and a lot of people at the building I work at love Cosmos. As far as eating in Aliso it's basically all chain restaurants centered at Aliso Viejo Town Center. Mob Town Pizza is pretty good. That's about it.

  2. Cody - Thanks for the heads up about Mob Town Pizza. I will have to give it a try. The liquor store next to Cosmo's serves some decent breakfast burritos, and I hear the sandwiches are pretty good. Might be worth checking out. Thanks for the comment.