Cosmo Salerno brings years of experience in the food industry to his latest restaurant, Cosmo’s on Oak.
The restaurant opened just before Halloween at 419 Oak St., Scranton. Salerno — the man behind Cosmo’s Cheesesteaks, 532 Moosic St., Scranton — and Head Chef Rory Flynn composed a menu that offers upscale bar food, sandwiches, salads and more. Patrons also can sample the bartenders’ takes on a Cosmopolitan and a Mule, to name a few, behind the restored vintage bar.
Wayne Sallurday, nephew of Salerno, recently chatted with Chef’s Table about his uncle’s main mission — to provide great food and service to customers — and much more.
Q: What is the history of the restaurant?
A: The Elbow Inn was the original name of the bar/restaurant/hotel dating back to the early 1900s. The Elbow lasted until the year 2000, when it was purchased by Tony Zanghi, who renamed the bar the Rook. Tony successfully owned and operated the establishment for 19 years. Cosmo Salerno, owner of Cosmo’s Cheesesteaks, was a frequent patron of the bar and developed a lasting friendship with Zanghi. The rest is history. We have done a significant amount of renovations to the Rook as well and have turned it into a really nice place to relax, watch the game, drink and eat. The original bar and backbar (were) restored with the hopes of keeping some of the tradition from the coal-mining days of the early 1900s.
Q: What type of food do you serve?
A: We currently serve upscale bar food, such as wings with delicious flavors (customers rave about our house sauce), a variety of exclusive appetizers, custom and unique sandwiches, large salads and more.
Q: How did your menu come to be?
A: Our head chef, Rory Flynn, has won several awards over his career for his creativity in concocting some of the best dishes you can find in Northeast Pennsylvania. Salerno and Flynn collaborated on the menu and put together a winning combination of small plates, sandwiches and salads.
Q: What are your most popular dishes?
A: Since we opened, our biggest sellers have been wings (all flavors), the Drunken Cheesesteak (a cheesesteak with pimento cheese, and yes, it is fantastic), Bodega Burger (chopped burger on a fresh hoagie roll with a delicious blend of cheese and sauces) and, believe it or not, the Bar Pretzel (a massive pretzel with cheese and mustard for dipping). Drink favorites are a little more difficult to name. Our bartenders make some amazing concoctions, such as an Espresso Martini, Cosmopolitan, Old Fashioned, Mule and more.
Q: What type of seating do you have?
A: Everything from bar seating to standard seating. We can accommodate families with small children as well, as we have high chairs available at the standard tables. We also have billiards, dart boards and barstool seating around the pool table. Our barstools are very comfortable as well, which is essential for folks with bad backs. This little detail is something that frequently goes unnoticed.
Q: What kinds of entertainment and specials do you offer?
A: On occasion, we will have acoustic singers perform their original music. We are looking to eventually turn this into a regular occurrence one or two nights per week. We will also be rolling out happy hour food and drink specials in the near future as well. On a daily basis, we offer a featured menu item, and it is typically offered at a discounted price.
Q: Do you offer catering, event space, etc.?
A: Yes, we do. We can accommodate all occasions and can offer a private room for smaller parties as well.
Q: Where do you see the restaurant headed in the future?
A: Cosmo’s on Oak is looking to become a full-service restaurant, complete with a full bar, catering, private party, delivery and takeout menu options. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’ll get there. For now, our goal is to simply provide great food, great service and consistency to our customers.
Address: 419 Oak St., Scranton
Established: October 2019
Owner: Cosmo Salerno
Hours: Opens Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. Kitchen closes at 10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and at 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Laura Rysz is the features copy editor and calendar editor at The Times-Tribune and runs the Talk of the Times column, which focuses on local fundraisers and other events. She also writes Chef’s Table that profiles restaurants around the region. Additionally, Laura curates events online on AccessNEPA.com. Laura is involved in the special Mother’s Day edition and curates occasional features Marry Memories and Times Travelers. She is a graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School, New Jersey, and earned an English professional writing degree with a minor in mass communications from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. She also earned a certificate in Social Media Marketing from Rutgers Business School. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5228.