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Salem Eats: Cozy Taberna

Written by Wyatt Jones on Jun. 8th, 2023
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In this month’s edition of the Salem Business Journal’s culinary feature, “Salem Eats,” our team visited the acclaimed Cozy Taberna for an exclusive tasting of their enticing menu. The star of the evening was the Octopus a la Plancha, a dish that showcases the restaurant’s expertise in blending spices, chilies, and flavors. We had the opportunity to speak with the talented head chef, Brittney Armenta, and the owners of the restaurant, who shared their background, inspiration, and journey in the restaurant industry.

The Octopus a la Plancha exemplifies Cozy Taberna’s unique concept of “Spain in Salem,” offering a family-style dining experience. Chef Armenta leads a skilled crew responsible for bringing Spain to Salem, while Beverage Director James Lowrance complements the culinary offerings with a well-executed beverage program that entertains the senses. The inspiration behind the dish and the restaurant itself comes from the owner’s history in the restaurant business and his partnership with the talented Michael Shinner.

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The owner’s journey began with his experience in the family restaurant business, including running Lois Lois Cafe alongside his wife and working with his father to build the Figaro’s pizza chain. His inspiration for starting the Cozy Taberna came from his work with renowned chef Hans D’Alessio and his partnership with Michael Shinner. Together, they envisioned a high-end restaurant in Salem that would offer a unique dining experience.

As for navigating recent challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the owners have focused on running the restaurants professionally, utilizing the strengths of their team members, and striving for continuous improvement. In terms of short-term and long-term goals, the restaurant aims to consistently deliver great food, inform the public about their offerings, and provide authentic customer service. By maintaining a positive and motivated staff, they believe they will continue to attract loyal customers and contribute to Salem’s thriving restaurant scene.

During our visit, we sampled the Octopus a la Plancha, which demonstrated Chef Armenta’s passion for perfecting the dish. The dish gained significant recognition in the prestigious Luck Magazine’s Portland Chef Competition, where it made history as the first entry from a Salem-based restaurant and featured two female head chefs facing off against each other.

Before savoring the main course, we enjoyed an array of appetizers, such as goat cheese dumplings and brown sugar-glazed Brussels sprouts, which showcased Chef Armenta’s and her sous chefs’ skill in combining sweet and sour flavors.

In summary, the Cozy Taberna offers a cozy, modern atmosphere, exceptional service, and an outstanding menu, headlined by the impressive Octopus a la Plancha. Paired with an excellent selection of drinks, it was a clear choice for this month’s “Salem Eats” feature in the Salem Business Journal. If you haven’t experienced the Octopus a la Plancha and the other culinary delights that Cozy Taberna has to offer, we highly recommend it. By drawing on the rich history and expertise of its owners and staff, the restaurant continues to innovate and evolve in the ever-changing restaurant industry, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts.

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