Just exactly the type of establishment that I love to try. Great food, fantastic hospitality, and a lovely family to match. My experience was just spectacular.
Owner Chuck Cinelli, was so informative, Chuck is very down to earth, but at the same time, he’s all business. Chuck treated me like a Queen, he let me try many great dishes, with all their own unique with stories. He runs a tight ship, and you can tell by his staff’s demeanor, they love their jobs.
His mother Joan, and her family have been serving up the best food for 55 years. Joan’s family is from the Campania and Lazio regions between Naples and Rome. She remembers hearty pasta dishes with fresh herbs and vegetables straight out of the family’s large gardens. She loved olives; thick-crusted bread, and lamb dishes. The family also grew grapes to make homemade wine. Holiday bread, cakes, rice, and ham pies were eagerly anticipated every season too. Back at the restaurant Joan’s mother Lucy always insisting on the freshest ingredients from the colorful local purveyors; Giavani the fish man, Pat working the produce stand, Giorgio the butcher, and Giuseppe who supplied us with imports from Italy. And of course, she remembers the long hours in the restaurant both in the front and back of the house. A favorite from her family’s old restaurant that Coco’s does today is their Meatballs and the Manaste (greens and beans). Joan says, “I’m glad we get to use a lot of the same imports we used years ago in the dishes here today. Bon appetite”.
Here’s What I Tried:
This hearty dish of cannelloni beans, pancetta, spinach, garlic and onions is a smaller version of the Tuscan Rustica found under House Specialties.
This is Italian penicillin, it’s robust but mellow, just a delicious home made soup. It will warm the cockles of your heart.
Tender pieces of calamari lightly fried until crisp. Served with our house marinara. The calamari is tender and crispy, just a delicious version of an Italian staple.
HOMEMADE BURRATA CHEESE:
Made fresh daily, we start with our own Mozzarella cheese balls and fill them with a mixture of creamy ricotta cheese, fresh herbs and Parmesan. Get creative and add some to a side of vegetables or on top of your salad, pasta or pizza. They make their own and say oh it’s easy. Having been to Italy and seeing it being made and then tasting it, it’s a real gift to do it right, and at Coco’s they do!
Spring mix with a blend of artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, spicy red onions and roasted red peppers. Served with balsamic vinaigrette. I ordered shrimp on mine and it was just amazing, the dressing is a real treat as well.
Piles of fresh shaved roast beef covered with melted provolone served with Chicago style hot Giardiniera and a side of au jus for dipping. Super thick and the bread is otherworldly, a perfect sandwich. Oh did I talk about the dipping sauce, it completes the whole experience.
Layers of freshly sliced prosciutto, hot capicola, genoa salami, provolone cheese, spring mix, roasted red peppers and red onion. A hearty, meaty sandwich, I actually took half on the plane for my meal on the ride home.
Coco’s own 12 hour marinara and meat sauce with a dash of cream served over fettuccini. This pasta is rich in tradition and a family recipe that remind you or the old country, even though I am not that old.
Succulent shrimp and scallops in a spicy red sauce served over linguini. They did a red sauce with a bit of cream for me on this one and it was just stupendous, I would order this every time.
They make their own Gelato and it is really the best Gelato I have ever had, besides having it in Venice Italy.
Chuck attributes his tenacious nature, when it comes to his restaurants, to getting bad grades and seeing examples of his Father and Grandfather being restaurant owners. In his world there is no room for failure. So he ventured into his family business and never looked back. His wife Amy is also part of the business keeping track of the books.
Back in 2020 he paid homage to the 55 years that the family business has existed and made 55-cent pizzas, which was a huge, hit amongst his already super happy regular customers. CoCo’s Italian is more than a restaurant; it’s a social gathering, especially because they have Bocce court outside with tournaments seasonally.
There is an events space next door where Chuck does weddings and other amazing events. He does all of the catering, and depending on what the theme is he gets the décor done and all of the bells and whistles to make any event successful. Chuck is a marketing wiz, you can tell by all of the poster and flyers regarding all of his upcoming events and deals. A secret Chuck likes to talk about is that he does not pay for advertising; he does everything himself. Chuck continues to see a huge influx of new business coming, and more corporations are building their headquarters in Nashville.
I was so fortunate to meet his 2 adorable daughters. When I asked them what they like to eat, they both said buttered noodles and pizza, easy peesy.
Even through Covid they havn’t skipped a beat, business has been booming, they pivoted and the rest is history. The day I was there lots of folks were having lunch in their festive dining room. Everyone was thick in conversation and yummy Italian fare.
They have 4 separate locations in and around the Nashville area, be sure to look them up on Google and try them out. You too will be pleasantly surprised.
Coco’s Italian Market & Restaurant
411 51st Ave N, Nashville, TN 37209
* Note some content was taken off of their website.