Elaine T. Cowan is chef/owner of The UXLocale, a restaurant in Uxbridge that has garnered a lot of attention since its opening last fall.
The UXLocale is located at 510 Hartford Ave. West in a building that Cowan renovated with the help of family and friends. The hilltop restaurant seats about 80 in the dining area and 15 at the bar. It has a seasonal patio that offers a view of breathtaking sunsets and the rural countryside, said Cowan.
The chef's passion for food and its preparation began early in life.
"I became a 'sous chef' when I was 3 feet tall, standing on tiptoe to see creations on the kitchen countertop, and I continue to learn today," said Cowan.
"My recipes and cooking style have evolved from the many memories of people at the stove: family, friends and neighbors. Those people, and their spirit, live in my kitchen with me.
"I believe in the quality of sustainable life, not just living well, and possess a strong sense of duty to integrate such sustainability into every aspect of life, beginning with perhaps the most basic of all elements: food.
"My promise is to offer a high standard of fresh and flavorful food made with seasonal, limited and local, high-quality ingredients, all at a reasonable price," said Cowan.
UXLocale is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday. Sunday brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The restaurant specializes in wood-fired pizzas, pasta dishes, etc. For reservations, call (508) 779-7515. Visit www.theuxlocale.com for menus, etc. Veterans get 10 percent off meals with a military ID at The UXLocale.
The restaurant since opening has exhibited works of local artists and occasionally features live music. The outdoor patio will open in the spring for dining.
"We started serving brunch a few weeks ago, and we will have a special pre-Valentine's brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 12," Cowan said. Another Valentine's event will be featured at 5 p.m. Feb. 15. Check the website for details about the menu.
1. What's your favorite cheap eat? Vietnamese pho. I can't get enough. It's total comfort food. I'm always in the mood for it and they're (Vietnamese restaurants) open late. I will unabashedly eat more than I probably should and then sleep like a baby.
2. Who were your biggest influences? My father, my uncle "Wink" and finally, my children. My father was an artist in the kitchen; watching him prepare food was like watching a perfectly choreographed ballet. He had extremely large hands that were ironically so graceful in everything culinary. From chopping to sharpening his knives, he always talked or sang to the food that he was preparing, he'd make up silly limericks and have us in stitches while we waited to get a taste of something delicious. My father learned to cook at his mother's side; my grandmother was an immigrant from Sicily, so many of the recipes that were passed down have a heavy Sicilian influence, with the adaptation of living on the cusp of poverty. My uncle Wink – annually for years, two days before Christmas Eve (enough time to allow the calamari and shrimp salad to properly marinate), I would go to his home to learn and make the traditional recipes. My uncle unraveled the history, science and anthropology of Italian food, while never abandoning the romance of it all. And lastly, but never last, my children. My son Chad has inherited his grandfather's grace in the kitchen. No matter what he concocts, he totally nails it. He's the mastermind behind our sourdough and has taken artisan breads to a new level. And my Antonia ... I don't know where my right hand ends and hers begins. Their work ethic and willingness to help me achieve my dream astounds me.
3. What's your all-time most memorable meal? There's always that one unforgettable meal, enjoyed al fresco by the flicker of candlelight, that, if I squeeze my eyes shut, I can still taste. For me, that dish will always be the cioppino I had at a restaurant named Cioppino, on Nantucket, with my husband on our honeymoon.
4. What ingredient are you obsessed with? Most recently it's been fresh sage, specifically browned in butter. It's so versatile and yummy drizzled over winter vegetables.
5. What's your guilty food pleasure? Frosted Mini-Wheats. I'll eat them any time of day. With milk or straight out of the box.
6. What's the kitchen tool you can't do without? My knife.
7. What food trend has outlived its welcome, and any idea of what's the next trend in the food world? I'm not a trend follower, but what I hope sustainability takes hold. 8. What would you be doing if you weren't a chef? I'm finally living my dream! However, I did just acquire a full drum set for when I get some "free time" — stay tuned.
9. What's your favorite meal to make at home? That's a tough one. Probably sausage in vodka sauce. It's a family favorite.
10. What's the strangest thing in your fridge at home? Korean barbecue sauce.
Elaine Pusateri Cowan of Worcester opened the new UXLocale in Uxbridge three weeks ago. “It’s been a dream of mine for a while,” said Cowan about her first restaurant. The owner and chef de cuisine said the business is a “perfect fit” for her, and she’s “extremely happy and fortunate” that she is able to do something she loves to do. UXLocale is described by Cowan as a place where diners can enjoy “Italian peasant-style food based on fresh, local ingredients. Dishes that get their distinctive flavors from how they are prepared,” she said. “Simple, yet flavorful. Not complex." Friends and family helped Cowan completely renovate a building at 510 Hartford Ave. West, the location of UXLocale. “There were some scary moments in the beginning, but we all worked together to make this happen,” said Cowan. She said she pinches herself every day when she walks into her restaurant. “It’s my dream place, and it took so much hard work and effort from so many people to make it happen. Everyone from my husband and children to my in-laws and even an 80-year-old uncle all pitched in. My family knows how important this restaurant is to me. It’s huge.” Cowan and her husband, Charles, have two children, Antonia, a student at Bridgewater State University, and Charles (Chad) Cowan IV, a student at Worcester State University. Cowan said her son, who transferred from Western Washington University to help her out, developed the dough recipe she uses to make pizza and bread. He also worked with his mother selecting craft beers.
The UXLocale Gallery inside the restaurant showcases work by local artists. The artwork, which changes monthly, can be purchased. Worcester photographer Donna Dufault is featured this month. More information is on the website. The restaurant accommodates 80 in the dining area and 15 at the bar. A pizza station is equipped with a wood-fired oven that reaches 1,000 degrees, said Cowan, who works in a newly equipped commercial kitchen. A seasonal outside patio offers a breathtaking view of sunsets and the rural countryside that surrounds the hilltop restaurant, according to Cowan. “It’s just a beautiful, quiet spot,” she said. “It would be a great place to get engaged.” The restaurant will have its official grand opening party and the launch of Cowan’s full menu on Nov. 5. Until then, the chef offers a “mini menu” of small bites, salads, pizza (red and white) and three selections of pasta and pasta del mare. Organic wines and craft beers on tap are available. Cowan buys locally from Foppema’s Farm in Northbridge, Ledgewood Farms (eggs) in Douglas and First Leaves Family Farm (micro greens) in Whitinsville. An “unofficial” opening of the business took place this summer when Cowan sold only ice cream. “I got the chance to meet many local residents,” said Cowan. She said the restaurant has been “packed” since opening day and reservations are recommended. Cowan previously worked at the Worcester Center for Crafts and the Worcester Art Museum for 15 years. She was a chef at the Specialty Sandwich Bar & Grille in Holden and owned Elaine’s Epicurean Enterprises. She is a regular contributor to Foodies of New England magazine. Cowan also is a community advocate and volunteer, and is a member of several community advisory boards. Foodies, check out UXLocale. Elaine, welcome to the restaurant scene
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE Dining review: A fresh face on farm-to-table scene in Uxbridge
By Bill Clapper Telegram & Gazette Reviewer
Riding the latest trend in restaurants, UXLocale brings locally sourced food to Uxbridge. Only established this past summer as an ice cream stop on a country road, UXLocale has expanded its offering to include pizza and pasta dishes that feature farm to table produce, greens and eggs. The meals at UXLocale are simple and based on rural Italian cuisine, meaning there is an abundance of pizza and pasta dishes on the menu. The use of fresh vegetables, greens and eggs from local farms adds to the appeal. Additionally, desserts come from a local, sweets specialty shop. The National Restaurant Association, an industry trade group, reports in its 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast that 68 percent of diners are more likely to visit a restaurant that serves locally sourced foods. Independent restaurants thrive on local support and if a recent visit is any indication, UXLocale will soon be the place to bring the family or meet friends in Uxbridge. Don't be put off by outward appearances. UXLocale has all the signs of a farm - huge barn, rolling fields, blue silos. The restaurant is around the back in a long, one-story addition to the barn. There is no signage to indicate an entrance but as we approached a double door, we could see people inside obviously dining. Gazing around the open space interior of UXLocale, we could see a brick oven and a window into the kitchen to our right; a small but adequate bar in front of us and an 11-table dining room to our left. The expertly wrought, wide knotty pine board finish to the walls and ceiling gave a distinctly rustic feel to UXLocale. That rural feeling was further exploited by the mismatched table ware and the tables themselves. Some were older dining room tables, others metal and four that were created from fence posts. On the Saturday night we visited nearly all the tables were occupied. UXLocale can seat 80 for dining and another 15 at the bar. We were aware that UXLocale had been serving food for a short time, so we expected a limited menu. What was surprising was the short but impressive wine and beer lists. We ordered a robust red Italian wine that went well with nearly everything on the menu. The one-page meal menu featured seven small bites, three salads, red and white pizza choices and seven pasta dishes. We decided to take one representative from each category and share. The smashed crater taters ($7) sounded interesting and proved to be a new way to prepare the ordinary, golden Yukon potatoes. About a half a dozen chunks of potato were lightly fried to create a crispy coating. Served with sour cream, the potatoes were simple yet full of flavor. Other small bites of note were: Grammy's mini meatballs ($9) and smelts limoni fritti (crispy smelt, fried lemon, white wine and garlic, $9). Though limited, the salads were innovative. We ordered the antipasto salad ($8) and found the beginnings to be delightful. A tangy cheese, pepperoncini, black olives and chunks of heritage tomatoes gave a well-rounded pre-dinner snack. But there was way too much balsamic vinegar dressing in the bottom of the bowl that soaked the cut romaine lettuce. Because UXLocale specializes in pizza prepared in a wood-fired oven that reportedly can reach 1,000 degrees, we ordered a pie with the idea that we could take the uneaten portion home, which we eventually did. All pizzas are judged by the crust and the crust at UXLocale is spot on. Thin, crispy, slightly burnt on one side and surprisingly light, the two pieces did not sit like stones in my tummy. Add fresh, local vegetables and cheeses and you have a masterpiece. For an entrée we selected the Papa's vitamin G carbonara ($15) partly because of the name and mostly because of the cream sauce. The heavily-garliced, carbonara combined pancetta, white wine, egg, Parmigiana, Romano and basil over fettucine. The blending of the cheeses and the subtlety of the Italian bacon was complemented with al dente pasta. A satisfying interpretation of a traditional favorite. The pasta dishes were arranged in two lists, the first simply pasta and the second pasta del mare. Of note from both lists were: sausage in vodka sauce (sausage, crushed tomatoes, rosemary, vodka, asiago, pecorino and Romano cheeses, cream, $15); salsa fresca (fresh version of marinara sauce, $12); linguine vongole (white clam sauce, $17); and puttanesca (garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, $15). Something out of the ordinary for dessert was in order and we shared a grilled, apple cider donut with whipped cream. An imaginative twist to the plain donut. But coffee was not forthcoming. I asked but our server said coffee was brewed with a French press, which produced about four cups. I wasn't about to consume four cups of coffee. Lesson learned. Don't look for a single cuppa joe at UXLocale. In warmer weather an outside patio offers a long view of the rural countryside that surrounds the hilltop restaurant. The UXLocale Gallery inside the restaurant displays work by local artists. Our meal for two with wine rang in at a respectable $70 before tax and tip. With its successful beginnings, and growing popularity, UXLocale is destined to be a favorite of the local community.
Staff Writer Uxbridge, MA has had a new place to cool off since UXLocale opened to serve ice cream earlier this month. And, since recently being approved for its liquor license, UXLocale is expected to become be a new culinary destination harnessing local resources in a rustic setting. CLICK FOR FULL ARTICLE