New Cog in the machine
Marc Malenfant and Robert Hemphill each bring seven years of homebrewing experience into newly opened Cogstone Brewing Company (3858 Village Seven Road, cogstonebrewing.com), which also serves as a Neapolitan-style pizza joint.
Hemphill was formerly self-employed and sold his company before launching the venture. Malenfant was a pilot for a national airline for 15 years. He also became a nationally ranked beer judge, meaning "I'm even harder on my beers — I became a judge so I could make better beer myself."
Hemphill brews too and they originally met through the Brew Brothers of Pikes Peak homebrew club. Now they brew on two one-barrel systems to supply part of a 12-tap bar along with guest brews. Malenfant says they're "into sessionability" in their lineup, which currently doesn't exceed a 7-percent ABV Belgian Dubbel but mostly ranges between 5- and 6-percent ales.
Other brews now on tap include a maple-bacon brown porter, with both ingredients going in post-fermentation and aging for a week or so, and a Polish style Gratzer, described as a "light-bodied creamy wheat beer," made with oak-smoked malt for a finish flavor that evokes an oolong tea.
Contrary to almost every other brewery around, Cogstone oddly doesn't have an IPA of its own on tap (though there are guest IPAs). Malenfant says that's because he wants to make sure he has a consistent hop source for the more in-demand varieties so that the beer won't change batch to batch.
Despite what you see and read on Cogstone's website home page, they are not serving "true Neapolitan pizza" from a wood-oven, though they do cook Neapolitan style on a new gas-fired Wood Stone pizza oven which incorporates a stone hearth. Dough and a burrata appetizer are purchased, but fries are hand-cut on-site and twice-fried in duck fat, "which tastes awesome," says Malenfant, noting they're less greasy and stay crispier longer.
Couture's to Roma
After an eight-month hiatus, the former Couture's Bistro space at 218 N. Tejon St., #100, has reopened as Café Roma (203-6700), still under the care of neighboring Paris Crepe owner Wahid Hafsaoui.
The reason Couture's didn't work out, he says, is he couldn't get enough customer volume with a more expensive French menu, and he couldn't bring the price down without sacrificing quality. So he moved to the Italian pantry, which can be executed more affordably for customers, with mains now in the $9 to $17 range. Plus, he and his wife lived and worked in family restaurants in Southern Italy for 12 years, he says.
Café Roma is making its own pastas and pastries and "everything's 100-percent fresh and authentic," he says, also citing an Italian cocktail menu and "very good wine" for only $3 a glass. Happy hours in the lounge from 4 to 6 will offer $2 wines and $2.50 tap beers, and Café Roma is dinner-only, daily but for Mondays.