My luscious list of 18 delectable dining haunts in Cosenza, for when you next travel to this fabulous undiscovered city in southern Italy.
Food glorious food…
If you’re a foodaholic, then Cosenza is definitely the town for you – food here is amazing!
The passion for food in Italy is an obsession, especially in Calabria.
Fresh and seasonal produce creates deliciously mouth-watering traditional dishes that have evolved through centuries whilst influenced by the many cultures that arrived in Cosenza.
Grown throughout the region, the chilli is one of Calabria’s emblems and used in many classic and rustic dishes.
This list of 18 haunts – not in any order – is by no means complete. As I discover more restaurants in Cosenza, I’ll post another list in the future to share with you.
1. Osteria San Lorenzo
This is definitely one of my favourite restaurants in Cosenza as the food and service are always excellent.
On Piazza G Mancini 23-24, this beautiful medieval building is tastefully furnished and exudes a lovely ambience whilst you devour a banquet over several hours.
The Tagliere for two (€20) is more than enough…
…as the main meal.
When a Calabrese waiter advises that the ‘Tagliere is large’ it certainly will be large!
It’s not necessary to order the Primi of fresh Lagana con Ceci (pasta and chickpeas).
Or, the Secondi of grilled beef with a light accompaniment of fresh seasonal vegetables.
On another visit, the light stuffed veal Involtini – a local dish – with thick potato wedges and greens is too much after the massive Tagliere.
Overseas relatives order the grilled meats for two – a meat coma.
2. La Calabrisella 2.0 – Pizzeria Rosticceria Proseccheria da Asporto
Venture along Corso Mazzini admiring the open-air MAB Museum (Museo all’Aperto Bilotti) with beautiful sculptures gracing this long pedestrian space. And, when you finally feel peckish, duck down Via Molinella 10/12, just off the Corso.
Tables and chairs placed under large sun umbrellas await. La Calabrisella 2.0 is another place to enjoy a feast.
Order the traditional Tagliere for one and the side of chips. Don’t order anything else as there’s enough food that trickles out to feed a ravenous army.
3. La Prosciutteria Firenze
This is not your typical restaurant but it’s a gorgeous meeting place to savour scrumptious foods with a Tuscan feel.
The high-quality food is amazingly fresh – put this one on your list. Check out the menu and start salivating: La Prosciutteria Firenze, the Tagliere is divine and the restaurant also offers succulent BBQ meats.
4. Tavernacolo Cosenza
Recently opened, this funky tavern on Corso Mazzini 159D offers two-level seating indoors, laneway dining, and also pleasant outdoor seating on the Corso.
Super friendly and attentive staff serve the Aperitivo Classico on lava stone or indulge in a freshly-baked Focaccia filled with local salami or Prosciutto.
A plethora of regional wines gracing the wall and boutique beers are available for dinner or your special event.
Another haunt near the Corso on Via Calabria 12, Apart is pricier than other restaurants although the quality is consistently good – shared many meals with overseas friends at Apart.
Shaved zucchini and crispy bacon accompany a traditional Calabrese Fuselli pasta, as does Fileja with Calabrese sausage in a rich tomato sauce.
A creative flair adorns staple dishes.
6. La Locanda Ristorante Pizzeria Pinseria
On Vialle della Republica, La Locanda is another favourite restaurant.
To give you an idea of how good this restaurant is, I never order Gnocchi as none I’ve tried in any country including Italy comes close to my mother’s or grandmother’s Gnocchi.
Although pleasantly surprised on ordering Gnocchi at this restaurant. The sauce tastes very similar to my grandmother’s – high praise indeed, although the Gnocchi isn’t as featherlight soft. Guess it’s hard to replicate en-mass commercially. The divine Pinsa won’t disappoint.
7. Antica Pizzeria
On Via Vittorio Veneto 62 in the old town, think I found the best pizza in Cosenza.
Not expensive and incredibly good pizza served in a basic ambience. Check it out for yourself and let me know if I’m exaggerating.
8. I Sapori del Vicolo
Off the Corso down a cosy alleyway (Corso Mazzini 149/f), this tiny restaurant offers outdoor seating only. A piccolo (small) Tagliere (€14) is more than enough for two people and the local house wine is well-priced at €8 for 1 litre.
Excellent service from lovely staff accompanies good food.
9. Ristorante Calabria Bella
If you find yourself in the Centro Storico again, then wander next to the Duomo.
This restaurant ensures great service and luscious traditional meals made from the freshest ingredients.
You will be looked after very well.
10. 1930 Pub
Visit tiny Via Idria 31 lane for your fix of juicy hamburger and yummy freshly-made potato skins or chips – wash your meal down with a glass of icy-cold boutique beer or Calabrian wine.
Great service in a cosy ambience surrounded by eclectic memorabilia from the 1930s of course.
11. Osteria dal cugino
If you feel like a short drive south of Cosenza to Dipignano, then check out the Osteria dal cugino for delightful genuine Calabrese food in a family ambience, with very accommodating staff.
Cheeses, fresh pasta, Prosciutto, Sopprasetta, bread, and loads more are made in-house and delectable.
12. Carlo Quinto Pizzeria Gastropub
A quick drive south of Cosenza until Via Specola, 29 sitting atop of a hill in the tiny village of Laurignano, the boisterous and very busy Gastropub isn’t the cheapest around. The food is excellent (pizza €8+, Secondi €7+).
Exposed timber beams, stone arches, and many separate sections make up this restaurant.
13. Ristorante Orientale
If you live in Cosenza and need the occasional break from delicious Italian food, then head to Via Adolfo Quintieri 16, for good fresh Sushi and Asian meals. All you can eat for €19 and hot meals are included, this is not a buffet but each dish is made to order.
Considering where in Italy we are and how difficult it is to find Asian ingredients, this restaurant is excellent.
Hailing from Australia and especially living in Brisbane, we’re spoilt for top-notch Sushi at very cheap prices. Pleasantly surprised at the quality and enough to return several times.
I need to try a couple more Sushi restaurants that have popped up over recent months.
On Corso Mazzini 3/8, excellent friendly staff serve mouth-watering pastries and savouries made in-house – gelato is also made for the summer months.
Lunch and dinner meals are also available.
15. Caffe Italia
Along Luigi Fera, 98/100 and decked out with loads of nautical memorabilia, enjoy excellent service and delicious savouries, and of course, the coffee is also good.
The cafe’s heavy timber beams and chunky ceiling feel as if you’re inside a wooden boat. Hundreds of alcohol bottles adorn the bar and around the cafe.
Gelato of course
To finish off any excellent meal, gelato is a must and it seems that every corner of Cosenza boasts a gelato shop.
This may be a slight exaggeration but if you consider that most of the bars make their own gelato in the summer, then it isn’t far from the truth.
16. Don Peppinu
Think I’ve found the best gelato in Cosenza and I’ve tried many although, on Corso Mazzini 242, this Sicilian gelato bar is excellent. Great portions (€2+) and friendly service.
17. Le Vele caffè
This gelato bar offers indoor and outdoor seating on Corso Mazzini 288. And, is very close in quality to Don Peppinu although Le Vele makes unusual gourmet flavours and is a little more expensive.
18. La Cremeria
At Piazza Bilotti 8, you can watch scrumptious gelato being made. When this first opened, portions served were large, but smaller portions now that it’s been open for 6-plus months.
Whilst in Calabria, I’m learning how to make local dishes but still also make the occasional Asian meal for a break. Why not, it’s fun creating right?
Two types of stuffed Gnocchi (shop-bought, I cheated) – Gorgonzola and spinach in a sun-dried tomato sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan.
My speciality – fresh egg lasagne with beef, vegetables, and three types of cheeses. I’ve made this with a few thin slices of hard-boiled egg in each layer – a Calabrese version.
Three-coloured Trofiette with crispy fresh seasonal Asparagus and chilli, adorned with shaved Pecorino cheese.
Two types of stuffed round fresh ravioli – one with spinach and the other with Gorgonzola – tossed in a mushroom and three-peppers’ sauce.
Smoke salmon Gnocchi with the spiking of fresh chilli.
There are a plethora of dry and fresh pasta variations available – check out this list from Wikipedia although extensive, I know there are more to add. In Australia, supermarkets typically have one aisle for pasta, here in Cosenza, there are three aisles. Pasta to Italians is what rice is to Asians.
Time to get back to creating, eating, and my expanding waistline!
A little on Cosenza
The Tyrrhenian Sea, which flanks the Calabrese coast is only a quick 25-minute train ride away. An hour’s drive and you’re in the middle of the expansive Sila National Park, which stretches 74,000-hectares across Calabria.
Steeped in centuries of history, Cosenza’s medieval Centro Storico (historic centre or old town) is one of the city’s precious intrinsic jewels, rendering a dazzling landscape from any angle.
Centuries of invasions have seen this city recreate itself many times and today, the city is becoming a cosmopolitan magnet.
An abundance of lovely piazzas enhance many areas of the city, creating comfortable gathering places for taking an evening passeggiata (stroll) or areas where children play.
Excellent restaurants serve delicious Cosentine cuisine either with a creative modern twist, or heavenly but timeless dishes of yesteryear.
Check out my recent post on Cosenza, Calabria: Italy’s Undiscovered City where I take you on an in-depth tour of this fabulous city.