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South Yarra’s Cosi Ristorante Relaunches

Cosi Ristorante, the once popular dining room that opened in 1996 on South Yarra’s Toorak Road, has new owners who are rebuilding the brand of the Italian restaurant. La Dolce Vita good times were enjoyed by David and Zoe at this Melbourne Italian dining institution. 

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Dishes were a string of hits including fresh Bruschetta, delicious Kingfish Crudo, top notch Mushroom Arancini served with an irresistible black truffle mayo, rich Lamb Shank where meat falls off the bone (and side of Broccolini), and the crowning glory of the Spaghetti Marinara. 

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Smart cocktails included a Gin Martini and the wine list is compelling (we indulged in Beechworth Shiraz).

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Desserts also impressive with traditional creamy Tiramisu and Crème Brûlée both showstoppers.
Cosi Ristorante is full of charm and the upgraded fit out preserves the leather booths and features of yesteryear as well as adding a modern touch. Service was impeccable. 

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The restaurant was well patronized on a Tues night with option to dine inside or relax outside watching the world go by on Toorak Rd.

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Business partners, Omar El Deek and brothers Giacomo Pietrantuono and Donatello Pietrantuono, who also own Cucinetta in South Yarra, and Carboni’s in Ballarat, took on Cosi at the end of 2019. They weathered the pandemic and are working towards a bright future for the business as they relaunch and rebuild one of South Yarra’s most loved restaurants.

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The trio arrived in Melbourne from Italy ten years ago. Omar and Giacomo met while working front-of-house at Caffe e Cucina, also in South Yarra. They worked there together for five years and became General Manager and Food & Beverage manager respectively, prompting them to go into business together with Giacomo’s brother, chef Donatello.

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Cosi Ristorante stays true to its Italian heritage with a refreshed look; elements of Cosi’s history – the reupholstered burgundy booth seating and the dark wood finishes – sit alongside more modern touches.

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The business partners enlisted Biagio Mastratisi from company Bella Toscana Painting to create a mural on the wall on the right-hand-side of the dining room using a technique called pietra spaccata (broken stone). It took him 120 hours to create, and the finish is reminiscent of marble although it is hand-painted.

A back courtyard is inspired by a Tuscan Garden. Red brick surrounds the space and tall olive trees line the back wall, “We wanted to share a feeling of la dolce vita in South Yarra,” El Deek says.

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The menu has kept some Cosi Classics from the last 26 years, such as entrees, mushroom arancini and lightly fried calamari with rocket and lemon, as well as mains of Cotoletta and the ever-popular Spaghetti alla Marinara.

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But the trio have added their own classics, Kingfish Crudo with capers and orange segments, and Mezze Maniche alla Carbonara sit alongside a changing specials list of seasonal seafood and grilled and slow-cooked meats.

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All pastas and sauces are hand-made by Donatello and his team at Carboni’s in Ballarat. They also produce their own Limoncello, Arancello and LimonChilly that they sell at all the venues.

The drinks list – designed by co-owner and qualified sommelier, Giacomo Pietrantuono – is a selection of Italian varietals from Italy and Australia as well as wines from France and New Zealand. There are house cocktails, Italian beers and non-alcoholic wines, beers and cocktails.

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On why the business partners took on a restaurant with such history, Omar El Deek says, “We don’t like to start up new places, we prefer to rebrand an Italian place that may be rundown. Cosi has so much to offer the people of South Yarra and beyond.”
Their passion for innovation founded in love of their Italian heritage and hospitality is palpable, “We’re very passionate about what we do. We get to meet people, talk to people and it’s a blessing to have the career we have.”

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In a nutshell, Cosi Ristorante is an impressive Italian restaurant that aims to please and brings a touch of glam.

Cosi Ristorante
68 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
03 9867 3999
Hours: Daily noon - 9.30pm (Week commencing Mon Oct. 3). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.