Dining On the Details

April 2017
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Scott Smallin

Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar’s eclectic culinary artistry makes a difference from start to finish

The Burrata appetizer at Costa comes out pieced together like a colorful culinary mosaic piled atop a thick wooden cutting board palette with fresh arugula, apples, walnuts, breadcrumbs, thin slivers of prosciutto and soft balls of Burrata cheese drizzled with balsamic. It’s deliciously refreshing and beautiful.

It’s the same kind of eclectic artistry presented in every course and every square inch of Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar in Murrells Inlet, located south of the marquee MarshWalk and next door to Inlet Sports Lodge.

Costa’s intimate alcoves and nooks for two swim with booths and four-tops slapped with brown butcher paper tablecloths beneath exposed ceiling beams in the dining room. A sexy bar in the back boasts metro-blue back lighting, a scattering of high-top seating, flat-screen TVs and a brick fireplace—the perfect date spot on the south end. An outdoor terrace opens beyond the bar to offer alfresco barstool seating that overlooks the lodge’s pool and mingles with Costa’s lush inlet landscaping.

Inside it’s both rustic and sleek, with walls washed in a wave of Carolina blue paint and dressed up with loads of silver accents and appointments designed to turn heads. I imagine it at night with the lights turned down low, but today, at lunch, sunlight winks through the Bermuda shutters to cast a soft glow over the dining room.

The Italian restaurant opened last summer in the building that housed former restaurant resident, Bliss. Chef Jimmy Pronesti bought the building with the hope of expanding on his success from Caffe Piccolo, his restaurant in Pawleys Island. A native of Pittsburgh, Pronesti brings more than 15 years of chef experience to the tables he serves, and he’s known to serve up creations that are far from ordinary, like the Burrata, one of the Chef’s Specials scrawled on Costa’s giant chalkboard mural menu. It’s a relief that he ventured down the casual fine dining path and not toward another Pittsburgh sports bar theme.

Instead, Costa delivers creative plates of sophisticated elegance—unpretentious but painstakingly attentive to flavors and ingredients. For example, I chose one of the chef’s entrée specials for lunch: Pan- Seared Diver Scallops that were sizeable, plump discs cooked to perfection alongside Mediterranean fregula (a cousin to couscous) and a handful of fried artichokes. The entire dish was finished in an orange bourbon glaze to sweeten the takeaway taste but not weigh it down with anything too rich and syrupy. The patchwork of flavors and textures, along with the ability to fuse both Italian cuisine and coastal seafood, was a win for me.

My husband chose to go with Veal Scarpariello, a “Land Entrée” sautéed with pepperoncinis, herbs and Italian sausage, all tossed in a spicy veal demi-glaze and white wine sauce over linguine. Although the ingredients’ composite didn’t seem to intermingle in the pasta, he liked the punch of the pepperoncinis and demi-glaze.

Costa also features a fun combo of sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch, from the Italian classics (pasta e fagioli and Caesar salad) to favorites with a twist (shrimp po’ boy and grilled panzanella salad). Dinner brings in more pasta entrées tossed up with seafood, chicken, veal, pork and ground beef, as well as a selection of steaks from ribeye to prime filet. One of the many appetizers I want to sample on my next visit is the Stuffed Banana Peppers with sausage, breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano and fresh herbs. Costa’s wine menu is endless and distinctive, and their rotating featured beers are worth tapping into, such as the Kentucky Bourbon Ale and Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout.

You can tell that Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar is passionate about the details. This is evident in everything from the impression the surroundings leave on each patron, to the ingredients in each dish on each plate, to the friendly and knowledgeable service itself. After all, the difference is in the details. That goes a long way in the big picture of the hospitality industry.

Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar
4606 US- 17 Business Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
(843) 299-1970

Open daily, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.