Coni’Seafood Restaurant expands the reign of Inglewood’s famous pescado zarandeado

By Jessica Koslow

Citrus, spices, mayonnaise and a smoky grill flavor Coni’Seafood’s famous dish

It’s hard to write an article about Coni’Seafood Restaurant without mentioning the pescado zarandeado and Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold. He called the dish “one of the wonders of the seafood world” and has made the Inglewood restaurant a regular on his annual 101 Best Restaurants list.

On Jan. 6 Connie Cossio’s Coni’Seafood celebrated the grand opening of its second location: the corner of Centinela and Gilmore avenues in Del Rey, near local favorites Angel Maid Bakery and Sakura Japanese Restaurant. But the name Cossio and Coni’Seafood were already well-known throughout Los Angeles.

Connie and her father, Vicente “Chente” Cossio, are restaurant royalty in L.A. Los Angeles Magazine referred to Vicente as “L.A.’s Godfather of Mexican Seafood,” and quoted him as saying Connie was the best cook he ever trained.

Vincente planted the seeds for Coni’Seafood in 1987 in the backyard of the Cossio home in Inglewood. That’s when the neighborhood got a taste of Acaponeta, Nayarit-style seafood.

“Nayarit style is Mexico’s most famous traditional seafood cuisine,” explains Connie. “Lots of seafood is eaten, and some of those dishes are pre-Hispanic. We are more about the product and the simple preparation, where Sinaloa uses more modern condiments.”

The family then opened Mariscos Chente’s, which is now Coni’Seafood, on Imperial Highway in Inglewood.

“In 1989, back when I was 17 years old, I started as a waitress in our backyard serving my dad’s plates,” recalls Connie. “Ten years later my father finally opened his first restaurant in Inglewood, where I am located now. In 2005, I took over the restaurant.”

After Connie’s parents divorced, her mother Magdalena Garcia opened Mariscos Chente (she removed the apostrophe) in Del Rey. Although the two eateries weren’t affiliated, Garcia used Vicente’s recipes.

This location closed on Oct. 22, 2017, and changed hands — from mother to daughter.

“I had been scouting for over a year for the right location,” explains Connie. “Last year, my mother wanted to retire, so I decided to take over Centinela. I closed Mariscos Chente for three months to remodel and changed it to Coni’Seafood.”

Vicente is still in business, since 2008, at Mariscos Chente’s on Inglewood Avenue in Inglewood.

Cooking is a passion that runs deep in the Cossio family.

Coni’Seafood’s family ceviche recipes are rooted in pre-Hispanic cooking

“My aunts from my father’s side have numerous restaurants in Mexico,” says Connie. “I used to watch and help my father prep dinner at 11 years old. … I’m a foodie!”

Gold has left a paper trail of raves for pescado zarandeado over the years:

2009: “… the latest cult object in Los Angeles restaurants, described by practically every food blogger in town over the past six months.” (LA Weekly)

2011: “… you certainly can’t leave without an order … “–Jonathan Gold, (LA Weekly)

And here’s Gold’s description of the culinary treasure in the Los Angeles Times last year:

“ … a broad, thin fish sliced neatly in half on the vertical axis, roasted slowly over a smoky fire and served on a platter the size of a skimboard — half an acre of smoking, char-edged flesh. The fish, usually a Pacific robalo, or snook, is dabbed with some mixture of citrus, spices and mayonnaise before it hits the fire, although it is usually all but greaseless when it hits the table. You tear off pieces and wrap them in fresh tortillas with a strand or two of well-caramelized onion.”

I would say it’s pure heaven, well worth the trip to Del Rey or Inglewood — multiple times.

You might be reading about this mouth-watering masterpiece only just now. But Inglewood locals have long known about Coni’Seafood on Imperial Highway. Walk in any day to find bustling tables and take-out orders lining the kitchen window.

“We have loyal customers from back when my father served in our backyard,” says Connie.

So, is Connie’s cooking just like her father’s?

Kind of, but not exactly.

“I’m taking what I learned while growing up and adding my own twist,” she assures.

And she’s keeping it all in the family.

On some nights, her niece is waiting tables in Del Rey, and her daughter, Bianka Córdoba, is the manager.

“I like to help out the family members,” she says, “providing a job to pay for school loans.”

Whether you dine in Inglewood or Del Rey, pescado zarandeado is definitely a dish to add to your culinary bucket list.

Coni’Seafood Restaurant 4532 S. Centinela Ave., Del Rey, (310) 881-9644