Opening a brick and mortar business in the middle of a global pandemic is a gamble to say the least, but for the team behind Cotta Food Bar, it was a necessary risk that’s more than paid off.
“Opening during the pandemic gave us the opportunity to find a stable staff, do some training, and get feedback from customers,” says co-owner Tania Sorge. “The local community really supported us through every Covid restriction.”
The popular South Windsor restaurant came about as a result of a flourishing catering business. Cotta Catering was initially created in 2013 to meet the demand for in house private events and special occasions, creating memorable ways to celebrate the Italian way. As the business grew, co-owner and executive chef Antonia Maceroni knew it was time for the next step.
“In 2020, a good friend of ours mentioned this space was available,” shares Antonia. “Despite the uncertain times, we decided to take a chance and create Cotta Food Bar restaurant.”
Antonia is a Red Seal Certified Chef and Culinary Instructor with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board and has been in the restaurant industry for over two decades. Her passion for cooking started at a young age with the influence of her nonna and mother.
“I grew up in an Italian home where working the garden was second nature and Sundays were spent rolling gnocchi or fresh spaghettini by hand,” she says, noting that her culture and her love of travel played an integral role in her culinary inspirations. Her philosophy on food is based on the Slow Food Movement; carefully preparing meals using traditional methods and locally sourced, organic ingredients, meant to be eaten and enjoyed slowly.
That way of cooking is also the inspiration for Cotta’s mouth-watering menu, which features a variety of freshly made pastas, seafood dishes, shareable apps, and Pinsa Romana; a Roman pizza that is gluten-friendly and offers a crispy crust and a soft, airy middle.
“We try our best to feature food that is not offered at any other local restaurants,” says Antonia. “We really want to offer dishes that are unique to Cotta like chocolate pasta with local exotic mushrooms to complement its earthy flavour, or Peruvian potato gnocchi with a rich gorgonzola sauce.”
With Antonia’s culinary prowess and Tania’s flair for entertaining, Cotta Food Bar has become a local neighbourhood hub for foodies, with a relaxed, inviting atmosphere and eye-catching artwork.
“I love people and music and food,” shares Tania. “I really enjoy interacting with our customers, getting to know them, and ensuring they have the best dining experience in town.”
Tania, an elementary school principal and the co-founder of Transition to Betterness, manages Cotta’s team of over 25 and credits the dedicated staff with creating such a welcoming space.
“Our front of the house team is so kind and attentive,” she beams. “Combined with our back of the house staff, they are the heart and soul of our restaurant. Because of their commitment to Cotta, we are successful.”
Tania says the team is excited for the upcoming holiday season, with live entertainment booked for every weekend for the month of December. Cotta will also be offering gift cards, custom catering menus, and are available to host Christmas parties in their festively decorated space.
They’ll be expanding their hours for dine-in and takeout as well to meet demand.
“We’ll soon be open for Saturday lunches, as well as Sundays and Mondays for lunch and dinner,” she says. “We definitely encourage people to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates and to make reservations to ensure your spot.” Cotta Food Bar is located at 3891 Dougall Ave in South Windsor. For reservations, please call 519-915-6882 or visit them online at www.cottafoodbar.com today.