Friday, March 29, 2013

Corso 32- Edmonton, AB

If you look hard enough, you might be able find those quaint, little hole-in-the-walls serving some of the most amazing foods known to man. Corso 32 is literally that: this VERY small restaurant of only thirty-two available seats (hence the name) is located on Jasper Avenue, in the heart of Edmonton's downtown area. Since its opening, Corso 32 has created a lot of buzz; what is more impressive is that it has managed to maintain it. Canadian chef and owner Daniel Costa uses his Italian heritage to inspire his delectable dishes. He was born, raised and trained (at the NAIT culinary program) in Edmonton. Daniel worked his way through the ranks, starting at the Italian Market, moving on to Jack's Grill and Da Capo Cafe, and then finally Red Star Pub before venturing out on his own.

Exploding onto the scene, Corso has been one of the most popular restaurants in Edmonton for quite some time and because of their popularity, reservations are few and difficult to obtain (and for good reason!). Open only from 5-11PM on Tuesday to Sunday, Corso has a very modern and comfortable atmosphere. You are LITERALLY almost touching shoulders with neighbouring diners from adjacent tables, close enough to engage in some friendly conversation. Having visited once before (and absolutely loving it!), I had high expectations for this visit. Corso has some of the most flavorful food I have ever tasted (I realize how bold that statement is, but I mean it!). Their use of fresh ingredients and modern fine dining style has put them atop Edmonton's food scene.

Arancini rice balls
On this visit, my companion and I decided on the Arancini rice balls for our appetizer ($8 for half an order- 4 balls, $14 for a full order). When dining in Italy, meals are typically served family style as opposed to each individual ordering his or her own dish. One of the great things about Corso is that when dining in a party of two, if you've ordered a pasta and a carne (meat/fish), they will automatically split and plate each dish into separate portions to avoid the messiness of actual family style dining. For our main, we chose to start with the ricotta and black truffle ravioli, followed by the trout mandorla, with a side order of olive oil confit potatoes.

First to the table were the arancini (deep fried risotto rice balls). These were crisp on the outside and wonderfully creamy on the inside, filled with roasted cauliflower, mascarpone, and fontina cheese. Definitely one of my favorite things of the night.
Ricotta & Black Truffle Ravioli

The ricotta & black truffle ravioli ($21) was topped with panfried brussle sprout leaves and parmigiano reggiano cheese. The house made pasta was cooked al dente, with the perfect amount of bite. The truffle was the star of the sauce, without being overwhelming. I could barely restrain myself from licking the plate clean. On our last visit, we tried the buccatini with a tomato-based sauce, which was equally delicious. I am looking forward to trying more of Corso's pasta creations on my next visit.

Trout Mandorla
The Trout "Mandorla" came out ~ 30 minutes after our pasta, which was longer than the last time I was here. The trout ($27) was accompanied by a fresh celery root and treviso salad, almonds, and a brown butter sauce. It was beautifully plated, with the fish peeking out beneath the green, red, and white colors of the salad. The fish was moist and flavorful, with each bite flaking off in every mouthful. Most of the time, I do not like to eat the skin of fish but this skin was so very crispy that I could not resist. The olive oil confit potatoes were tasty but really just ordinary potatoes, not worth the $10 price tag.


Olive oil Confit Potatoes
After a great meal, we decided to finish off with vanilla panna cotta topped with pistachios and honey grappa, a grape-based alcoholic brandy beverage from Italy. I find a lot of panna cottas suffer from too much gelatin, giving a jello-like texture, but Corso's version was silky and creamy. The sweetness was contrasted by the tartness of the grappa.

Vanilla Panna Cotta
Last time I was here, I ordered the grilled cheese, fried short rib and the chocolate torta. I left feeling that the food was so rich and heavy that I would not be able to eat this meal on a weekly basis. This time, however, I felt like I could eat this food every day, likely because we ordered a much more balanced meal from start to finish, with a fish instead of meat, and a light panna cotta instead of the decadent chocolate torta.

The service was nothing special, but it was nice to see that my glass was always full. If interested in going to Corso 32, book your reservations early (up to 2 months in advance) if you are looking to go between the peak hours of 6:30 -8:00PM. The prices at Corso are very reasonable for the quality of food you receive. The atmosphere is great and the food is even better!

Pick of the Night: Arancini rice balls

http://corso32.com/

Rating:
4.5/5 Erics'

Corso 32 on Urbanspoon

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