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.
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.
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).
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.
10345 Jasper Avenue