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Italian in the Twin Cities

I have some friends from out of town and they love Italian cuisine... Ive considered the usual dining places: Broders, Parma, etc. I wonder if anyone has any first hand experience dining in Louis at Cossettas in St. Paul...


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  1. been going to Cosettas for years. tried Broders once and never went back. Haven't been to Cosettas new sit down side.

    8 Replies
    1. re: stymie

      Please excuse my confusion. Are you saying that you never went back to Cosetta's after trying Broder's, or that you never went back to Broder's?

      And was that visit to Broder's restaurant or their deli?

      1. re: KTFoley

        I didn't care for Broders, but I know many love it.

        1. re: stymie

          What happened that made you never go back?

          1. re: forgottendreamr

            I'll chime in here since I'm in the same boat. For me, it's not worth driving across town for food. There is nothing about Broder's that stands out or that I can't find closer to my home in St. Paul. I'm not saying that it is bad food. But there is nothing memorable from my meals there and the waits were pretty long the two times I've eaten there.

            If I lived in South Minneapolis/Edina, it may be a different story. But there are so many options in St. Paul that are equal to Broders and a few that are, IMO, much better.

            1. re: Db Cooper

              "But there are so many options in St. Paul that are equal to Broders and a few that are, IMO, much better."

              Given Broder's focus on pasta, I'm curious as to what options in STP you would consider equal to or better than Broder's?

              I completely agree that the wait can be ridiculous, and I haven't been to Broder's on a weekend evening in a couple of years because of the waits. And if you're not talking about type of food, but in general, then yes, STP has many as good and several better restaurants than Broder's. But when it comes to a pasta focus, I can't think of any restaurant in STP that focuses on pasta to the extent that Broder's does.

              When it comes to a wide choice of high quality pasta dishes, aren't there only two real players in town? Broder's and BLG, both in MPLS? Or am I missing something?

              1. re: foreverhungry

                Why do you need a wide choice of high quality pasta dishes? Aren't you just ordering one or two? If a wide choice is the measure to judge, your best bet is La Grolla which usually has about 15 on the menu and another 20 added on the nightly specials. Here's a few I consider equal or ahead except maybe not on the "wide choice" scale:

                I Nonni
                Cafe Biaggio
                Ristorante Luci and Luci Ancora

                1. re: Db Cooper

                  Yes, I'm ordering 1 or 2, or maybe 5-6 for a table of 3-4. With many places, 5-6 is the full choice on the menu, so one visit and you've had what there is to have. I'm not advocating for the Applebee's approach of having a 10 page menu, but I like the concept of a couple of restaurants that concentrate on specific dish types, such as pasta, offer a wide choice, and do it extremely well.

                  I'd definitely agree with I Nonni, and I haven't been to either Acqua or Biaggio. I won't go back to Luci or Ancora, after having eaten there frequently when I lived in the neighborhood. Over the course of 3-4 years, their quality went downhill to the point where I was paying a lot, but not getting much in return.

                  But, to each their own. When I'm in a mood for pasta, I head to BLG, where I know everytime I'm getting a high quality product at a great value.

            2. re: forgottendreamr

              As I said earler, many love it. I didn't care for the food I had. Maybe it was an off day for them. This is the del not the sit down place across the street.

      2. Louis's appetizers are good especially the Asparagus Milanese. I've had 2 main courses upstairs that I could have gotten for a couple bucks cheaper downstairs. I Nonni is my go-to when I have the money, otherwise I tend to wind up at Scusi when I'm craving Italian food.

        1. It depends on what kind of "Italian" you're looking for. I Nonni is my go-to for what I see to be the closest the TC has for good quality Italian. The service is top notch, the cocktails are inventive and well crafted, and the food is excellent. While expensive, you get what you pay for.

          I haven't been to Louis yet, but everything else I've had at Cosetta's has been overpriced.

          Have you been to Butcher Block? It's not I Nonni quality, but still very good. Worth a try if you've never been.

          1. +1 on i Nonni. Also, Al Vento, Luci Ancora, Bar La Grassa (maybe not as "authentic" as i Nonni, but still very good). Trattoria Tosca has been good, but I've not been for a while, and there has been some turnover at chef.

            1. If you haven't tried it yet, Cafe Biaggio on University Avenue is really worth a look. Everything I've had there has been top notch and their carbonara is the best in the Twin Cities.

              1. Sole Mio in Woodbury very good! Their salad and dressings are great..Marsala Ravioli,CHICKEN MARSALA ect desert..not so much

                1. The best I've had in TC is Acqua in White Bear Lake. Really outstanding stuff.

                  1. I've been to Louis once. Split a burrata salad and ordered the chicken under a brick. Both were quite good. They were unexpectedly slammed (night of marriage bill signing), so service was a little uneven, but they were clearly trying. I've never been a huge fan of Cossetta's (their pizza and salads are fine, but I stay away from the red-sauce/pasta dishes), so I was pleasantly surprised.

                    The new paticceria is gorgeous, and the baked goods have been outstanding.

                    1. Al Vento has good food, and I like the quaint atmosphere. It reminds me of the smaller restaurants in Italy. Many of the options listed above should fit the bill though

                      1. If your friends are from a city with even reasonably good Italian food I would spare yourself the embarrassment and do not take them an Italian restaurant in Minnesota. The people that promote the same restaurants on this board in post after post have clearly not spent much time outside Minnesota and apparently do not like authentic Italian food. Throwing some Precooked pasta in a pan with premade sauces and your choice of additional indgredients is not what most would call good Italian. BLG .....I don't get that either, not Italian.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Musky_Hunter

                          The OP isn't looking for suggestions of the best Italian food in the world. He/she is looking for help finding a place in the Twin Cities.

                        2. How is Prima 54 and Lyndale? Last time I was there I had just returned from Italy and I thought it was great. It has been a while so does anyone know about the food now?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ibew292

                            I can't say I'm a fan of Prima. The food is pretty blah -- it's not awful, but it doesn't really stand out in any way.

                            1. re: Jordan

                              Haven't been to Prima for years, because the food was so very mediocre when I went. I think you can do better.

                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                Looking back it has been 5+ years since I was in Italy. Thanks all for the info.

                          2. My favorite places for "gourmet" Italian food in the Twin Cities are:

                            1. Broder's trio of restaurants, Terzo has the best Italian wine list. Edging out I Nonni.

                            2. I Nonni.

                            3. Luci's 2 restaurants.

                            For "red sauce" Italian, try Yarruso Bro's or Vescio's.

                            1. Thanks to all for the great responses.... How about Gelato... What are your top pics for gelato in the twin cities?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Gelatodolci

                                Cow Bella, Wilde Roast, Cosetta's, and Jackson's

                                1. re: jaycooke

                                  Cow Bella, Cow Bella, Cow Bella. Why? They get the texture right.

                                    1. re: SmartCookie

                                      The name of the store on Grand Ave in St. Paul is Cow Bella.