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Oct 20
Reviews (Eats)
Kosinitza: Trattoria à la Turca

photo by Kathryn Tomasetti
Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Kathryn Tomasetti and Tristan Rutherford, freelance travel journalists for The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out, among others. Their website can be found here

Kosinitza is located in the charming Bosphorus-side village of Kuzguncuk, a short bus ride north of Üsküdar. It’s a time-forgotten place where wooden homes are interspersed with bakeries, crowded teahouses and shops piled with fresh vegetables. Down the road from the restaurant is an Armenian church, which, very uniquely, shares a courtyard with the next-door mosque; there are also two synagogues and a Greek Orthodox church nearby.

Culturally satiated? I was when I ducked inside with my husband Tristan: lunch at Kosinitza is his birthday treat. Newspaper clippings and artworks share space on the restaurant’s saffron walls, while the heavy cutlery on each table could hail from an aristocratic granny’s kitchen. We are lucky enough to be the only patrons, as I’d reserved the whole restaurant for Tristan’s birthday (or so I may have claimed), and received owner-cum-waiter-cum-sommelier İbrahim’s undivided attention.

Pacing ourselves with a slow mental translation of the exclusively Turkish menu, we ordered five mezes to share: artichoke hearts stuffed with broad beans; stewed octopus and pearl onions; white beans and squid; sea bream topped with caramelised onions; and vine leaves wrapped around sweet sardines. (Note that the usual pick-and-mix display of mezes may not be laid out at lunchtime, although all can be ordered off the menu.) İbrahim recommends a few different wines from an extensive list; we settle on a crisp local white (10 TL a glass).

The mezes arrive. We spoil the pretty presentation with enthusiastic abandon: each small bowl is unctuous; each one has a loud lip-smacking quality.

Often struck by a case of severe over-ordering – eyes bigger than both our stomachs and then some – we try to keep our meal light with a bowl of chunky balık çorbası (fish soup) and a crispy Catalan salmon and seafood casserole. The former is excellent, the latter a little creamier than we had anticipated. We linger over tea before paying the very-reasonable-for-a-special-occasion bill (83 TL including wine).

Although Kosinitza calls itself an Italian trattoria and offers a range of pasta dishes, as well as Marseille-style bouillabaisse (fish stew), gratinéed scallops and a shrimp “marmite,” what the restaurant really does best are its traditional yet innovative Turkish dishes. As of late September 2009, Kosinitza also added a new range of dishes to their menu (unsampled for the moment, but my birthday’s on the horizon…).

Address: İcadiye Caddesi, Bereketli Sokak 2/A, Kuzguncuk
Telephone: 216-334-0400

(photo by Kathryn Tomasetti)

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