It was four years ago, that the news started buzzing in Lahore about new caterers in town. Shereen, Shan, and Yasmeen at some parties were such a bang to the catering scene that people heard about them right up to the US. Cosa Nostra is the name under which the trio of siblings, Shereen, Shan, and Yasmeen created a place for people to sample some of their exclusive Italian food. This restaurant surely is, unlike any other place in Lahore. Cosa Nostra in Italian means ‘our thing’ and is slang for Italian mafia. Either way the name fits in place that is known for doing its own thing that is different than the rest. The siblings inherited a taste for fine Italian food from their Italian mother, Paola Cardone, and very successfully managed to gel their Italian recipes to the local taste of Lahore. The moment you step into Cosa Nostra’s Pizzeria, the ambience makes you feel as if you are in some part of Rome. With old whine bottles jammed in the wall, fine crystal chandeliers and smell of fresh pizzas and baked cheese, the feel of the place gives a dream like experience of a restaurant in the suburbs of Rome. Owned by a half Italian family, the place offers true Italian thin crust pizzas. Not just known for its exclusivity but also for its unique style of cuisine, their recipes are from all parts of Italy adapted to match local tastes. However, one think to note here is that although variations are made in recipes but to an extent that they do not loose the exotic Italian essence. The menu has a wide variety of soups cooked with exotic Italian herbs. Cream of chicken was the best amongst the soups on the menu. Light and creamy, served with crispy croutons, it was simply delightful to the palate. Pizzas make a major part of the menu with thin crust pizzas and toppings ranging from chicken, shrimps and meats of all sorts. Most scrumptious and appealing out of the menu is Marinara Pizza, with a topping of tail prawns and squid. Adding on, an assorted variety of pastas are also there on the menu. Pomodoro Basillico, spaghetti pasta with a steamy red sauce, cheese and chicken is certainly a treat for all the pasta lovers out there. The meal is not complete without their special Italian drinks like Seasonal Granita with rich milk and coffee and Gingerrita that has a strong ginger and lemon taste to it. No meal is complete without a dessert, especially at Cosa Nostra. The desserts are as Italian as the rest of the menu. The best was the Diable Chocolato. It is a hot Italian dessert with chocolate brownie dipped in hot milk pudding. The pudding is as good as the brownie itself, rich in chocolate with a slight vanilla flavour to it. Costa Nostra is indeed a symbol of what you would never think of finding in this city, but which exists. It’s like a fairytale told by the creative art work on the walls and the heavenly delicious food. A meal at Cosa Nostra takes you away from a usual dinning experience that we get else where and will enhance your taste buds for sure. http://www.thesaturdaypost.com/spotlight_24_cosanostra.htm The Italian Mafia in Lahore Just around four years ago, Lahore started buzzing with the news of a new caterer about town. Shereen, Shan, and Yasmeen's spreads at some parties were such a hit that people heard about them right up to the US. Cosa Nostra is the name under which the trio of siblings created a place for people to sample their food in between parties. This restaurant is definitely unlike any other in Lahore for many reasons. Read on to find out why... The History of Cosa Nostra Paola's father (left) Cosa Nostra is Italian for "Our Thing". In local (i.e. local to Italy!) slang, Cosa Nostra is a term used for the mafia. Either way you look at it, Cosa Nostra is a fitting name for a family doing their own thing! The siblings inherited a taste for fine Italian food from their mother, Paola Cardone, who had acquired exceptional culinary skills from her father. Using recipes they inherited from their mother, the siblings started catering for small to mid-sized parties. Immediately, their food was a super hit. Paola Cardone Yasmeen The Beginning... "We wanted to fill the void between the really traditional food from typical wedding caterers and the really expensive but often tasteless food from five star hotels," says Yasmeen. "We wanted to provide food that people would thoroughly enjoy, in a way that they would always remember." Yasmeen looks after the restaurant management and administration. Shereen, the only sibling we did not meet as she was unfortunately out sick, is the sourcing guru. She sources materials from within and outside Pakistan, making sure that Cosa Nostra has the best quality stuff available for their guests. "We didn't fully realize what a huge void we were filling, when we started out. But now we are catering for numerous parties, weddings, dinners, and we have a lot of corporate clients as well. One of our unique offerings is the ability to cater for very small gatherings, like 10-12 people. We can create a buffet, do a chef's table, or a more traditional sit down dinner, depending on the size and scale of the event. We consult with our clients on the menu, and I'd say we almost completely drive it. At the most, our clients may tell us their meat preference and of course their budget, but that's about it." The Cosa Nostra catering speaks for itself with the layout and accents (like really nice serving platters and utensils), lighting effects, and other things that make dining at otherwise boring functions a real treat! From Catering to a Restaurant... "Once we started catering for parties, our friends and clients started pressurizing us to open a restaurant. They didn't want to wait for our next party! We had this really small office then, but we started serving food at what we called our "Chef's Table". We'd serve whatever we were making that day, and that's one of the main concepts we've carried into our restaurant as well. Our Chef's Table has a menu du jour, served in six courses, one of which is always pasta! We have an a la carte menu as well, and offer take away too. This helps us overcome the ingredient issue, as we don't freeze or microwave anything. We cook only fresh meat and vegetables, and we make our own pasta. There isn't any other restaurant in Pakistan that does this. We don't skim on little things like soft drinks or even cocktails. If a guest wants an extra helping, or more dessert, we are very generous about it. To us, it's all about having food that truly satisfies you. And our guests know that if they come to Cosa Nostra, they will truly enjoy themselves." Guests can be accommodated in a variety of settings, from 2 to 12 or so at a table Cooking is a man's job! Shan, the only male in the sibling trio, is the chef. "Even though I'm not a chef by education or training, I'd always had a knack for cooking. I'm a real food fanatic and can't just eat anything when I'm hungry - I'd rather starve than eat bad food! It is my appreciation for eating good food that makes it possible for me to make good food." Shan experiments relentlessly with recipes that he inherited from his mom, as well as with ideas from food he samples from other countries and restaurants. "I keep trying different things and usually, the results are quite good. People who've had food here, including guests we have entertained from outside of Pakistan, have told us that our food is second to none." At this point, Shan offered me a cocktail, which I initially declined but after just one sip, I couldn't put it down. Made of guava and lemon juices, a touch of mint, and a couple of undisclosed ingredients (trade secret!), it was the most refreshing and delicious cocktail I've had anywhere in Europe, North America, Far East, and Pakistan! Future Plans... Cosa Nostra is looking at imminent expansion, within the Gulberg area in Lahore. "We want to have a larger facility with more seating. We want to do this more formally and will, Insha Allah, do so as soon as we secure the right kind of premises. We are working on some options and hopefully, within 2006, we'll start formalizing our new facilities. We even have plans for restaurants outside of Pakistan. Let's see how things pan out!" http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-155998372.html Byline: Mahlia Lone Fusion cuisine has been all the rage for some time now. But few would have braved mixing Italian family recipes with exotic Pakistani ingredients, which is just what's being served up at Cosa Nostra, a family-run restaurant outside of Lahore, Pakistan. It's garnered so much acclaim that now it's outgrown its current spot and is opening up a veritable smorgasbord of dining options for its well-heeled clientele-including a basement pizzeria, a garden caf, a rooftop grill, a special chef's table and even a conference facility. The adventurous menu at the chef's table might include shrimp ravioli with saffron cream, grilled white radish ...

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