by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie
It’s been a long time coming for my review of The Italian Cousin. I’ve had many great recommendations from fellow foodies that the food here is fantastic. I had a chance to get a preview of this place a few months ago and we were blown away how how fresh and creative the dishes were. After having my house torn up for a few weeks due to a complete replub, I finally had a chance to get back here and do a formal review and taste a few more dishes from their menu.
Head Chef and owner Gus Rivera and his wife Chef Michele Hennessey previously ran a restaurant in this same space called The River Grill. About 5 years ago they decided to retire that concept and open it’s Italian “Cousin” in it’s place and Michele decided to step away from the restaurant to help raise their family. The restaurant is located off of US Hwy 1 just south of Sebastian. As you’re driving north, just keep an eye out for their sign, the driveway entrance is just past it on the right. They share a parking lot with other local businesses, but most of them are closed when they open at 4:00 pm, so you should not have too much of an issue finding a parking spot. The dining room feels bigger than it looks from the outside and the interior decor puts you in an “Italian” state of mind. They do have a private room in the back for private parties or meetings.
Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!
This classic combination of tomato and basil is taken to a WHOLE new level here at The Italian Cousin. This soup has a very creamy and velvety texture that is very pleasing on the palate and so full of flavor. Too bad they don’t have a gourmet grilled cheese on the menu because it would pair perfectly!
Only the best quality mussels are served here and they are quite large too. They are steamed with a Chardonnay-Lemon Basil broth until they all open and then served over linguine with fresh spinach. The mussels were perfectly cooked and they absorbed lots of flavor from the broth. Save some of the bread, you will want it to help soak up the remaining broth!
Several eggplant slices are pounded thin, breaded, fried till golden brown, then layered together with Parmesan cheese. It’s then covered with both a red and white sauce and served over a bed fresh spinach. The eggplant was very tender and easy to cut with just a fork. The sauces were both rich and flavorful. I like the fact that it was served with both sauces and the spinach to represent the Italian flag for presentation.
Chicken breasts are pounded thin and lightly breaded and pan fried in a lemon butter sauce. It was then tossed with spaghetti, fresh spinach, and topped with freshly diced tomatoes. For such a simple dish, this was sure packed with a lot of flavor! The chicken was very tender and what little coating it had on it (good thing), it sure soaked up a lot of flavor from the lemon butter sauce it was cooked in.
As soon as this dish hit the table, the wonderful aroma from the rich tomato bolognese sauce hit me and I was in heaven! The pasta was cooked al dente and was the perfect vehicle to bring more of that delicious sauce to my mouth with each bite!
When it comes to desserts, anything with peanut butter & chocolate is my go to, but this dessert changes all of that. Pairing two of my other favorite flavors together, Amaretto & Almond, this cake is TO DIE FOR!!! It was rich, creamy, smooth and had a wonderful balance of the amaretto & almond flavors that I could not stop eating it!
I’ve dined here several times now and have tried several different dishes from their menu and I have yet to find one that I don’t like. Everything is prepared to order so you know your only getting the freshest ingredients prepared with lots of love! If your new to this place or have been going here for years, I’m sorry but the secret is out, and with season starting very soon, make sure you call ahead for reservations to guarantee you get a table, because I know you won’t be disappointed!
Address: 480 US-1, Sebastian, FL 32958
Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday, 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Closed on Sunday
This experience was part of our new “Restaurant Review Dining Experience” where you have an opportunity to join me, “The Food Guy” on an actual restaurant review and go behind the lens to see how I work and taste all of the amazing food you have seen in my articles! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our email newsletter and text alerts so you know when tickets go on sale for our upcoming events!
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