By Larry Sheingold –

How can something unique, like Cossetta Italian Market in St. Paul Minnesota be so … unique? Why haven’t restaurateurs across the country, including my town, adopted this winning dining formula?

At Cossetta Italian Market everything you need to fill an Italian food craving is there under one roof. Two cafeteria lines meet at a cash register in the center. To the left are the salads and hot dishes. To the right great pizza slices.

There’s a family room upstairs for dining. Through another door is an amazing Italian market, with a startling array of meats and deli items and row after row of oils and pastas and the most complete selection of capers, anchovies and other condiments you are likely to find anywhere.

This is not Spaghetti Factory food.

The huge menu includes Mostaccioli Con Ricotta, Penne Alla Panna and Arrabbiata, Fusilli Alla Pesto, Chicken & Mushroom Cannelloni, cheese-filled tortellini with Alfredo sauce, topped with crisp-roasted prosciutto, Italian Sausage Calabrese, Lasagna Al Forno, Stromboli and tramezzino sandwiches like herb rubbed and rolled Italian beef, sliced and served with au jus, pepper giardinera on French roll.

The pizza is also exceptional with great toppings and crust.

As good as the food is, the experience is what sets Cossetta apart. Family owned since 1911, this eatery works for family reunions or first dates. This is obviously a place where family matters.

The Cossetta matriarch, Frieda, died last year at 98. Grandmother of the current owner, she helped start the business in 1911 as a fruit and vegetable stand. It is now a simple but elegant, kid friendly destination for Italian food lovers.  One line pizzas. One line entrees. Another door to Italian market heaven.

Unique in my dining experience. But I have to wonder why. Surely, this is a winning formula for a city or town near you. You can take a look at the Cossetta website at

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