Dining for Three

My husband and I are about to become parents for the first time.  As we near our due date we, like so many others before us, feel the need to do all the things we think will soon become distant memories; sleep, go on dates, see movies, try new restaurants.

It was with this in mind that we recently found ourselves at a new to us spot in Jackson Square.  Cotogna, a rustic Italian restaurant, seemed perfect for what could be one of the last romantic moments we would have for awhile.

It was a Tuesday night and the place was jammed, always a good sign. Luckily we were able to grab a spot at the bar, overlooking the wood fired oven. The atmosphere was bustling yet cozy.  Seduced by the crispy wood oven roasted pizzas being plated mere feet from us, we immediately started our review of the menu.

The rustic Italian menu was mesmerizing, even a little confusing at first.  The use of authentic names left me wondering what at least five of the dishes I was interested in were.  Not to be deterred, I questioned the waitress diligently, “What is sformato? How about garganelli?”  She provided explanations for every question, making my mouth water in the process.

I decided to start with the cucumber, heirloom and white anchovy salad with my main course being the garganelli with pork sausage and nepitella (think a denser penne pasta noodle with sausage and a mint like herb).  All was moving along well and we were enjoying ourselves when the baby started a series of what I can only imagine were full body rolls during which it seemed the little one inside me was trying to escape.  The effect on my comfort level was immediate and unpleasant, I had to get up and walk around.  After a few moments I returned, determined to enjoy our date.  My husband was fascinated by the performance art of the pizza maker, snapping photos and clearly enjoying himself.

Around the time he ordered his second glass of wine I realized that the evening was on a rapid decline for me.  I felt ill, uncomfortable and hot and realized that if I didn’t get out soon I was going to go over the edge.  My husband saw the color drain from my face and asked if I was okay, if I wanted to leave. I tried to protest at first but to no avail, I asked if he would mind and we agreed we’d get the rest of our meal to go.

Here is when Cotogna and their staff go from being a team producing great food to being remarkable enough to mention in a blog post.  The waitress and the manager both began moving rapidly to hustle our order and our check to get it to us. I went outside to wait and only a few moments later the manager came sprinting out with our food.  We thanked him profusely and promised to be back another time.

While pregnancy inspires many things in people, one universal reaction to a pregnant woman who looks as though she may pop is apprehension. People want to make sure there is no birthing happening on sidewalks or in restaurants, which I’m sure in part inspired the reaction of the staff at Cotogna.  But I also believe this is a team that is on top of their game and should be acknowledged.  In a city with hundreds of restaurant options and lots of food attitude, Cotogna delivered outstanding food with a neighborhood friendliness that is truly memorable.  If you’re looking for an experience that delivers on all fronts, stop by Cotogna.

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Tara Hardesty