Louis Ristorante aims to revive St. Paul

Cossetta's overhaul hopes to wake up the city's sleepy downtown with classic Italian cuisine

Similarly well treated in terms of timing was the classic take on cioppino, a rustic Italian seafood stew that Louis takes up a notch by adding sweet lobster tail to the shrimp, squid, cod, and scallops, with a big piece of cheesy crostini for sopping up the rich, tomatoey broth. It's a tricky dish because of the different levels of desired doneness for the proteins. Louis did an admirable job.

That wasn't always the case with dishes in the secondi course. Veal saltimbocca imparted a wonderful, cleansing breath of sage, but the pounded-thin medallions of meat were perhaps too thin and came out chewy and overcooked — a particular shame because the velvety sauce and balsamic glazed carrots that accompanied them were superb.

Both the pollo Florentine (chicken scallopini cooked with spinach and mozzarella cheese) and the pollo Marsala (with gorgeous beech mushrooms and all the husky resonance of that iconic sweet wine) inspired no complaints, with the Marsala ultimately winning the round.

E. Katie Holm for City Pages

But then it was on to desserts, which ranged from the abysmal to the sublime. Working from the bottom up, the frutta di bosco was a fruit tart in which every component was an utter failure. Out-of-season, hard, sour berries? Check. Cold, undercooked, flavorless crust that remains as malleable as a piece of fondant? For sure. Custard that tastes closer to a bad version of pastry cream? Unfortunately, yes. Somewhere in the middle was the tiramisu — not too sweet, but also not quite light or complex enough. Finally, the saving grace (and maybe others are yet to be discovered) was the chocolate chip cannoli. The endlessly edible mingling of shatteringly crisp fried pastry, lightly sweet and abundant cream, bits of tucked-away chocolate, and just a dusting of confectioner's sugar was executed perfectly, and about an hour later I wished I had gotten five or six to take home.

In sum, it's family dining that's less kitschy and more authentic than Buca di Beppo, more homegrown than Pazzaluna, more thoughtful than Yarusso Bros., but definitely less sophisticated than something like Bar La Grassa. It's the exact kind of restaurant my grandparents would feel is "fancy" but wouldn't in any way be intimidated by. True to its new slogan, it's "a piece of the levee" indeed, and the post-remodel Cossetta's, including Louie, has firmly established itself as one of the enduring centerpieces of downtown St. Paul.

See more photos from Louis Ristorante here.

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1 comments
Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

I can't believe that Cossetta's got OUR tax money for this crap.

The people who brought you: Cossetta's  -  food that is just above Chef Boyardee quality, are now going to bring you elegant fine Italian dining - I think not.  Cossetta's continues with their cafeteria style cattle line with rude, uneducated, uncaring servers is the worst, then you have to carry your own food up a flight or two of stairs!   I guess the blue collar rubes in St Paul think of this as fine dining. 

So you think that these people who serve this slop are going to do a 180?   And they are gonna turn St Paul around?   St Paul a city that no longer has a department store.   But don't worry, the State of MN will buy/lease the defunct Macys and use it as a state office building, for our ever expanding entitlement government.

 
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