Last Call?

I learned that today is the last day for Cocozza American Italian, the "pop-up" started by the owners of The Majestic Grille to take the restaurant's place during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the blog I Love Memphis, the inspiration for Cocozza comes mostly from family recipes of co-owner and Italian-American Deni Reilly. Most of the menu is traditional Italian with items like spaghetti, lasagna and Chicken Parmesan. To quote the restaurant's website, it is a "red sauce joint" that is unpretentious in both its menu and how it presents itself. On the night that I visited (December of 2020), I kept it simple in getting the spaghetti and meatballs along with an appetizer (the Majestic... er, Cocozza's popular fried calamari) and a dessert.

From what I remember, everything in the pasta was great. From the meatballs to the thick sauce, this was a well made meal that holds its own with other great restaurants like Bardog Tavern (coincidentally, both Deni and Bardog's owner Aldo Dean are Italian-Americans from New Jersey). I hope the spaghetti and the other Italian dishes will have a future with either the Majestic or as "Cocozza."

As I'm writing this post, this will be Cocozza's last night as a "pop-up" restaurant. With the world on the verge of returning to normal, Deni and her husband (the marvelous Chef Patrick Reilly) will soon resume operations of The Majestic Grille. I'm hopeful that "Cocozza" will continue in some form, such as a catering service or as retail products (prepackaged meals) that are currently selling in grocery stores like Cordelia's Market (aka "Miss Cordelia's") and High Point Grocery. Maybe demand could lead to a permanent "Cocozza" independent of The Majestic Grille, setting up shop in a neighborhood like the South Main Arts District. Regardless of its future, I appreciate the efforts of the Reillys for being innovative in keeping their restaurant going in these rough times. If this is it for Cocozza, it was great while it lasted.

UPDATE: Recently, the Reillys signed a lease in Harbor Town where they will relaunch Cocozza this Fall (2022). It will be located in 110 Harbor Town Square, next to Cordelia's Market. To learn more details, check out this article in The Commercial Appeal.

UPDATE (December 2022): COCOZZA'S IS OPEN! This month, Cocozza's opened its doors to the public and is serving up great red sauces dishes! Check it out!


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