Cocozza American Italian in a port city: the owners of Majestic Grille

Majestic Grille owners Patrick and Denis Reilly will open a new restaurant this fall. The couple signed a lease in Harbor Town to open a permanent location for Cocozza American Italian.

What started as a temporary pop-up idea to re-open in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cocozza pop-up quickly became a beloved lunch concept that included a line of takeaways and baked goods. Cocozza was open from July 2020 to March 2021.

Cocozza, a pop-up ghost restaurant with American Italian dishes from the Majestic Grille staff, is served on their patio in the center of Main Street on Friday, July 10, 2020.

Cocozza will open in the fall at 110 Harbor Town Square. The space next door to Cordelia Market was most recently home to Movie & Pizza Co.

The Reillys have stated that they aim to fill a niche in and out of the densely populated residential area by offering family-friendly classic American Italian dishes that are quick and easy to order for take-out, delivery, and a full-service casual sit-down restaurant with a “fun, a quirky dining room that evokes memories of eating in your beloved grandma’s kitchen.”

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Spaghetti carbonara at Cocozza in downtown Memphis.

This idea has simmered in Reilly’s mind for years. The American-Italian red sauce style diner has its roots in the couple’s past.

“One of the reasons I married Patrick was his vodka rigatoni,” Denis said. “I was skeptical that this Irishman could cook my favorite dish – and he did.”

Denis grew up in New Jersey dining in American red sauce Italian restaurants. Dishes such as vodka rigatoni, eggplant parmesan and marinara penne are all dishes that evoke memories of home in Denis – and these are the dishes that the duo have included in their menu.

Owners Patrick and Dani Reilly pose for a portrait inside the Majestic Grille as the restaurant prepares to open Friday, March 26, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Like the pop-up, this regular version of Cocozza will offer old-school red-sauce dishes like lasagne and manicotti and classic American Italian dishes like chicken piccata and Milanese pork, inspired by the Denis family’s Italian heritage.

Patrick said that interesting novelties will also appear on the menu. He plans to add dishes such as Clams Casino and hot prawns, parmesan veal, shell steak and Daily Entrée specialties.

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