Cosimo’s in Middletown: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011

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Greetings from Sharon MacGregor after a recent visit to Cosimo’s in Middletown.  When telling friends and family about Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, the first question is usually, “Which restaurant are you going to?”  With Cosimo’s, there are four locations, so you have to ask, which restaurant — and then which location? Though I haven’t been to the one at the Woodbury Commons, it tends to receive the highest praise.  We were seated in a more private and roomy booth in the main dining room and I was happy to have room to spread out though it was just my husband and I for dinner.  The atmsophere and decor are somewhere in between a chain Italian restuarant and yet not quite fine dining, but we looked forward to the experience.

Our server, Kristin, was friendly, warm and able to accurately explain any questions we had about ingredients and menu descriptions.  A bread basket was placed on the table with our drink orders.  I would have better appreciated the offering if it were warm and toasty.

From the restuarant week menu, we began with the Fritto Misto with artichoke hearts and calamari.  For dipping, a traditional marinara and smoked jalapeno and scallion aioli.

The calamari and artichoke hearts were wonderfully fried, crisp, not greasy or limp.  I am a bit of a whimp when it comes to heat in my food so for me, the aioli was perfect, but for those who would have been expecting a bit of mouth fire – they may have been disappointed with the smoked jalapeno. Still, it was a welcome alternative to the traditional marinara.

Our other starter was an entree sized portion of “pork medallions cacciatore with cremini mushrooms, slow roasted Pine Island onion and peppers over asiago polenta cake.”  The menu description created an image of a few discs of pork and the vegetables over a silver dollar pancake size of polenta.  Here is what we received:

The pork was full size cutlets, the vegetables were tender and the soft polenta had enough texture to hold up on the fork with the other ingredients.  After a few bites, we asked Kristin to wrap the rest so we could save room for our main course.

The steak with Italian herbs and toasted scallion compound butter with patatine fritte (waffle fries) with crispy sage and garlicky baby bok choy made my taste buds smile at the plate.  Though the scallion could have been considered boring repeating from course to course, it did add an air of springtime to the overall meal and since the use of local ingredients was called out on the menu, I hoped we were truly supporting local farms as well.

I was offered one of the first bites of the steak and later a much better middle bite.  The outer sear of the meat was a nice crust for the butter to cling to without feeling too heavy.  An inner pink with a bit of juice running out satisfied our carniverous side, but my husband thought the portion may have been a bit on the small side.  If I were to have ordered this as my entree I am sure I would have found the size perfect and, between us, he pushed the vegetables around on the plate.  The baby bok choy was served crisp to bite and well seasoned without being overly garlicky.

For me, the oricchette pasta with salsiccia crumbles (I had to ask – salsiccia is sausage), sauteed baby swiss chard, canneliini beans and white wine Brodetto topped with shaved Giana Padano parmigiano.

This dish was comforting and mellow with an attention-getting snap of bitterness from the chard.  I would stir before each bite to make sure I was able to capture a bit of all of the ingredients on the fork as well as freshly coat everything in the sauce.  The portion was generous and filling leaving me with enough to take home for an entire next day meal.

On to the desserts – Hudson Valley apples soaked in honey, cinnamon and Amaretto baked on a thin pizza crust with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream for my husband.

The thinly sliced apples were packed with flavors from tart to warmth from the cinnamon and hug of honey.  The thin crust was also thin and crisp and a welcome bed for the fruit and creamy ice cream.

The warm chocolate bread pudding with Karen’s home made ducle de leche gelato while again, not what I had imagined, did not disappoint.

If a diner were truly looking for a chocolate end to their meal, this was the only offering on the menu and while it was good, I yearned for a bit more chocolate flavor.  The unordered dessert option was tiramisu, which would not have satisfied a cocoa craving.  The bread portion was a hybrid of bread with brownie and forgetting the menu description of dulce de leche gelato, my eyes were convinced I was served vanilla ice cream and so my palate was tough to sway.

Overall, Cosimo’s in Middletown was a pleasant weeknight dining experience and Kristin was a wonderful assistant with the right amount of attentiveness and knowledge.

The Cosimo’s website is here.

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