For years, Cosmic has been my stop on the way home for the best wieners in Rhode Island. The popular Warwick icon has consistently placed near the top in the Fork in the Road Weiner Challenge.
But Cosmic is much more than wieners.
Owner David Ohanesian has been running the establishment for 36 years, opening first on the corner of Post Rd. and Elmwood Ave., and moving to his current location at 1141 Post Rd. in 1994.
“I started the business when I was 21 years old,” David said. “Everyone in the family was going to college, but I couldn’t sit still that long. God bless my mother. She not only encouraged me, she helped me.”
David’s mother worked at the restaurant until shortly before her death two years ago. His employees have been loyal workers for many years. Cindy has run the counter and the phone for 27 years and calls customers by name.
Jeremy, a graduate of Pilgrim High and Rhode Island College, has been with Cosmic for eight years and will enter Roger Williams Law School in August. Leslie has been there for over 10 years.
And then there’s Vinnie Ferrante, the peripatetic manager and chef who knows everybody and everything about the restaurant business. He’s been with David for “many years.” Staff loyalty is one sure measure of a solid restaurant operation.
Eighty percent of Cosmic’s customers are take-out, with only seven tables, where many sit and wait for their orders, chatting amongst themselves and with the staff. One night Joyce and I found ourselves in a lively conversation with Dave and his customers, all of whom had strong opinions on the state of the economy and the political climate.
Oh yes, the food!
Cosmic’s famous shaved steak grinders come in 14 combinations, from steak and onions ($4.90 for a 10”/$8.05 14”) to Cosmic’s Pride: steak, onions, mushrooms, baked peppers, cheese, lettuce and tomato topped with hot and spicy chili ($6.85/$11.60). They make for one great meal. Hot oven grinders include a variety of chicken, veal, cold cut, meatball, sausage, seafood, pastrami and vegetarian, ranging from $4.99 for a regular Italian cold cut to $10.75 for an extra large Pastrami a la Cosmic. Their pastrami is fabulous and enhanced with onions, peppers and melted cheese. The turkey for the grinders and daily specials are cooked in house, not the usual deli rolls.
There are a number of items that I didn’t even know about after years of stopping for wieners and pizza. Dave makes his own chicken salad, and it is better by far than that popular brand. He buys his veal on Federal Hill, and you can hear him pounding it in the back kitchen.
The most high-end item on the extensive menu is a brand new item, which I had sampled recently at a US Foods show in Warwick: an 8-oz. Angus Chopped Beef Burger, created by Manhattan’s Pat Lafrieda. Cosmic sells it at a ridiculously low $6.50 and even throws in a small drink.
Cosmic’s pizza menu runs from a small cheese ($5.40) to a large Cosmic Special with everything on it for $12.80. They’ll even put anchovies on it if you ask.
Dave brags about his salads, but on our two recent trips we wanted something more substantial, turning to the large calzone menu. Our recommendations: pepperoni with tomato sauce and cheese ($6.25). Dave makes his own dough, and the calzones are humongous.
The spinach pies are stuffed with fresh spinach ($2.80). We like to add sausage for another 50 cents. All sausage items are cooked fresh.
“Good food at low prices. That’s my motto,” Dave told me. “I work on a low profit margin and high volume.”
Pizza boxes fly out of Cosmic in stacks, with Jeremy and Bill delivering in and around Warwick and Cranston. Last week when we were there, Jeremy was making his weekly delivery to Planet Fitness, while Bill had 10 pizzas on their way to Carbone’s. Dave will even cater an event for you. “We’ll do anything. If we can do it, we’ll do it.”
Did I mention the doughboys? They are sinful. Served hot, with lots of sugar, they also rival another Warwick icon, and they sell for only $2.50 a half dozen or $4.50 a dozen.
“You haven’t tried our chicken wings and chicken fingers?” Dave asked on our last visit. “You’ve got to try everything. Everything is good!”
Next time, Dave. Next time.
Cosmic Steak, Pizza & Weiners is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight. Call ahead for pickup. There is a minimum charge for delivery. They accept credit cards. Call 781-5410 to order ahead. Check them out online at www.cosmicri.com.