The Little Things: Corso 32

Corso 32, like MRKT, is a new breed of restaurant. Led by a young chef with a bold vision, the establishments are stylish without being pretentious, embrace local producers when possible, and have adopted a communal table, signifying the importance of the restaurant’s community of patrons.

Corso 32, notably, is also pushing the terminology envelope, with the following statement on their menu: “A few things to add to your vocabulary: arancini is a crispy rice ball,  pappardelle is thick pasta ribbons, poipette are meatballs and tesa is our house-cured pancetta.” I admire their quest to expose diners to what might be unfamiliar words; it simultaneously demands respect and elevates how one thinks of their cuisine.

It is also important to mention the idea of roots, which Corso beautifully shares through its inspired Italian fare as well as with a life size image of Chef Daniel Costa’s family, which looms on one wall (“Corso 32” is the the address of his family’s home in Italy).

For these reasons, my sister and I were really looking forward to our dinner reservations at the restaurant two weeks ago. Unfortunately, a few things prevented our good experience from being great.

The menu was small, but offered a solid range of choices (which, from the looks of it, will change on an ongoing basis). We ordered the arancini ($10) to share (a dish we were familiar with from Lit), and had split opinions. Amanda thought it was much too salty, but I loved them – the perfect bar snack, they were hot and crispy, the breaded shell giving way to a melted cassia cheese centre.

IMG_2962

Arancini with mushrooms, pancetta and caccia (apologies for the terrible pictures)

For my main, I ordered the crispy gnocchi ($17), which, in hindsight, was my mistake given our appetizer – something featuring a broth or sauce would have been a nice change up. I did enjoy the interaction between the slightly spicy notes with the bitter black kale however, but I think I prefer my gnocchi enveloped in a creamy sauce, which usually enhances its silky, pillow-y nature.

IMG_2969

Crispy gnocci, black kale, pecorino and spicy crumbs

Amanda was happy with her entrée, the rib steak ($25), which had an almost buttery texture. She also liked the dish accompaniments, arugula and shaved celery root (her first encounter with the latter).

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Rib steak with shaved celery root & arugula salad

Food aside, two things marred our experience: first, Amanda had to ask for her drink three times before receiving it, all while we watched our server walk past our table delivering drinks to the party seated just behind us. The server did comp her soda, but given our placement near the bar, the misstep was even more puzzling.

Second, although we ordered our entrees immediately following the two top beside us, they received their plates a good fifteen minutes before we did. This wouldn’t have been an issue normally, except that a party of four with a reservation for 9pm was waiting eagerly for our table, hovering in the makeshift lobby beside us. At 9pm, Amanda and I were just finishing our plates, while the couple next to us had already reached their dinner’s end and were preparing to leave. Our server did offer up the dessert menu, but we couldn’t have comfortably dallied any longer.

Corso 32 has received glowing reviews elsewhere (in the Journal and Vue Weekly, as well as from Marianne and Chris) – I hope my next meal there is just as positive, in all aspects.

Corso 32
10345 Jasper Avenue
(780) 421-4622

11 thoughts on “The Little Things: Corso 32

  1. For reference purposes, can you tell us what time was your reservation? Despite what happened with the drink, at least they tried to correct times, so, for that I do think they deserve some kudos! When I went there myself, I stayed for over two hours and at no moment felt any rush or anything like that.

  2. I have to say that I take issue with the opening sentence. Corso isn’t a new breed of restuarant. Anyone who knows and appreciates good food and fine dining would recognize Corso as the norm. I think Edmontonians are far too used to eating crap food at chain restaurants to know that Corso is the way you are supposed to eat, and what good food should taste like.

  3. Hamilton definitely got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. You are an Edmonton food writer and within the context of our city and where we live this is a new breed and a welcome change. I take pride in our independent restaurants. I think we have a lot of great things happening in our city independent restaurant-wise, especially lately, but we could definitely use more. We are a tough city to crack, it seems.
    We do tend to support chains more than independents on the whole. I love what they did in San Francisco. There can only be one specific kind of any chain within a specific area, thus the city thrives on independent restaurants and the food culture there is very dynamic. Yes, I know the climate and location beside the ocean is definitely a factor that affects that outcome, too… but the political decision to allow only so many chains into an area made a profound difference to their local economy and the artistic possibilities there, food wise.
    :0
    Valerie

  4. C’mon, a new restaurant is not a new breed. Go to any open-minded city and your will find many similar restaurants, serving food the way it’s meant to be eaten. Sharon, I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy your pasta but in Italy that’s the way they do it. They don’t slap red sauce all over a good plate of pasta, like they do at the Olive Garden.

  5. Oh my god, can you not appreciate good food?
    All the things I hate about this post;
    -don’t even try to compare Corso with Mrkt
    -new breed of restaurant (agree with Hamilton)
    -menu was small. The best restaurants actually have smaller menus cause they do a few dishes well, not a lot of dishes badly
    -gnocchi enveloped in a creamy sauce. That’s the North Americanized version that suits underdeveloped palettes. Educate yourself about how pasta is prepared.
    -blah blah blah about the service. Packed restaurant. Small kitchen. Small army of staff. Quit the belly aching and enjoy the food.

  6. Kim – our reservation was for 7:30, and we arrived on time. You’re right, they did correct it, but it was still a bit puzzling, especially because I received my drink just fine.

    Hamilton – I tried to frame the “new breed” with the particular trend that I see, of which MRKT is a part of. Of course it isn’t taking place in a vacuum; I recognize that others have paved the way to some extent – Culina (minus the communal table) and Cafe de Ville, for example. I just love the idea that we have a group of “up and coming” chefs(Nathan Saurette of Niche and Nate Box of Elm Cafe included), who will be cooking in Edmonton for years and years to come .

    Valerie – I had no idea that SF actually limited chains. Given that tourism is their #1 industry, chains would thrive there if that wasn’t the case.

    Eric – I think creamy gnocchi is delicious, but to each their own. That said, I think it’s great that Chef Daniel is showing us other ways that gnocchi can be prepared…it was the first time I’ve ever had it “dry”.

    Heather – I wasn’t making a negative comment about the size of the menu – I was simply stating a fact (Niche has a total of 4 entrees…and yes, 4 entrees they seem to do very well). The experience didn’t turn me away from Corso – service probably was just a glitch for us that night. Of course, a dinner out is always about more than just the food – you want to enjoy the ambiance and good service – otherwise, take-out would be the only option. I will be back, and as I said, hopefully it will be as enjoyable in all aspects as others have had.

  7. In my experience with the F&B industry, they try to have all the drinks ready before they have it ready to go. However, things might not work when several drinks are prepared at the same time so they just served what is at the counter. This is regardless how close/far you are from the bar; unless you are seating at the bar, in which case, the bartender is preparing the drink when ordered. On that note, if memory serves me right, when a table order drinks, the order which a bartender would prepare them is cocktails, beer, hard liquor, wine, pop. The reason is how long it takes to prepare (cocktail), some time to “sit” before serving (beer), easy to pour (hard liquor, wine) and, well, the simplest (pop). If it was just pop, I would have just reminded them. It just happens.

    I think size of the menu is quite good for the restaurant, as less dishes means things can be more easily mastered (though it does not help the menu changes with a certain frequency). Compare it to Campagnolo, a similar type of restaurant in Vancouver, where the menu is easily almost triple the size of Corso. I am sure Chris will be posting about Campagnolo soon!

  8. Hope the next time around turns out better. I met Amanda recently – she’s so nice! Was thinking you might be at the Vinomania dinner last night – Nate Box cooking and winemakers from Emiliana in Chile – such a fun and tasty night, I’d recommend the next one if they are all like this.

  9. Kim – I didn’t know the order about drinks preparations; thanks for the information.

    Jennifer – me too! I did see the menu for the Vinomania dinner that you mentioned – it sounded great, but we couldn’t make it. Glad to hear it went well!

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