Chef Gene Griego’s Italian inspired neighborhood eatery, Cose Buene, is open once again at 436 Naugle St. in Patagonia.
Griego has bought both buildings where the restaurant was located previously, renovating the old Piper laundromat next door to live in.
Three nights a week he opens his homey, six-table restaurant with a five course feast using whatever is fresh and seasonal. Like all good Italian restaurants, the food is simple, not fussy and delicious. Carefully curated and always changing, this is a restaurant where you could eat every week.
Griego grew up in the little Italy section of Hoboken, New Jersey with an Italian grandmother who spoke no English. Leaving for Tucson in 1977 he worked as a waiter in some of the top restaurants, but it was his travels in Europe, especially Paris, that inspired his love of food. Greigo said, “I was a vagabond, or as my Mother would say a bum.”
He had studied to be a teacher but decided that working nights left his days free to enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, with vacations spent traveling in Europe. He eventually bought a house in France.
The restaurant makes guests feel as if they had traveled back to a kinder, gentler time when dinner was an experience not to be rushed but to be enjoyed with good wine, good friends, fresh flowers on the table and candlelight. When guests make a reservation at Cose Buene, Griego will ask about eating likes and dislikes so he can plan the meal accordingly. There is no set menu.
During a recent visit to the restaurant, guests enjoyed a first course of crostinis with olive tapenade. Antipasto was next, with fresh greens, asparagus, Serrano ham, eggplant and peppers. Next came pasta with caramelized onions and smoked bacon. Grilled shrimp followed, perfectly seasoned with a lovely sweet salad. A light tiramisu, made by Chef Greigo, with a touch of coffee flavoring the angel fingers, was served for dessert. A glass of homemade arancello, a digestive, ended the meal.
This is thoughtful and stimulating “old school” Italian food at its best, like dining in someone’s home in Southern Italy. It’s comfy and low key, a perfect place to take a date, or a family group. It’s definitely a place to take your Italian mother. She would have no complaints!
Reservations must be made in advance by Tuesday a.m. Call Chef Gene Griego at 520- 394-0010. The restaurant is open 3 days a week, Thursday through Saturday. The price is set at $50 per person for five courses, cash or check only. Wine is extra.