We went out after work on a Friday to celebrate a friend's belated birthday. After doing some restaurant research, the birthday girl decided to go to Corso 32, the new restaurant opened by Red Star's chef, Daniel Costa.
Corso 32 opened a few months ago in the heart of downtown on Jasper Avenue (10345-Jasper Avenue to be exact). Seems like they have been pretty busy the last little while. I walked past once during the evening and they were packed full. And this time, my first time going, will also be packed as my friend tried making a reservation for a table of four, but was only able to get seating at the communal table.
|Can you speak Italian?|
The restaurant is very small in width and narrow in length. With modern furnishings of plastic white chairs, wooden chopping board-like table tops, simple yet sophisticated lighting and a large picture mural of Daniel Costa's family in Italy, it is a relaxed environment. The restaurant is named after his family's home address in Italy-and what a great picture it is! The restaurant filled up quite quickly as friends trickled in one by one as well as other guests. Not long after, the restaurant was at it's full capacity.
I started the night off by ordering the corso campari-a 'before' drink that consisted of vodka, limoncello (that's what got me), campari, juice of a blood orange (that's what also got me), squeeze of lime, rocks. I'll have to be honest that it sounded a lot better than it tasted. It was more bitter than I thought it would be and was rather a small drink priced at $10. We all decided to share appetizers amongst the four of us. Their menu changes frequently,every few weeks, depending on the season and the produce so the returning customer will never get bored of their menu. We opted for the smoked pork arancini, oyster mushrooms & fontina, house made goat ricotta, maldon sea salt on crostini and stinging nettle & egg yolk ravioli, parmigiano.
|Clockwise from top: stinging nettle with ravioli, smoke arancini cheeseballs and crostini.|
The smoked pork arancini appetizer was nothing like I expected: it was deep fried. There were about 7 of them shaped into balls. They were fresh from the deep fryer so I couldn't bite into it right away, but upon the first bite, it was alright. It was too salty and there seemed to be small bits of rice mixed into the oyster mushroom and fontina cheese filling. I don't think I would order that next time. Next up was the stinging nettle & egg yolk ravioli. I was very curious about the stinging nettle as I've seen the episode of Glutton for Punishment.Bob Blumer was to eat as much stinging nettle in a short duration of time. Stinging nettle has a chemical in the leaves that emits 'stinging' sensations when chewed in your mouth. However, I had heard that once cooked, this chemical gets broken down so there isn't a stinging sensation anymore. And true that was. When I bit into the ravioli, the nettle simply tasted like tougher spinach, while the ravioli burst into my mouth with egg yolk. It was tasty, but there really wasn't anything special about it. The last appetizer to try was the house made goat ricotta on crostinis. The crostini was toasted crisp, drizzled with olive oil. The house made goat ricotta was delicious, with a hint of sweetness.
|My yummy gnocchi!|
I wasn't going to order a supper entree as I had eaten a late lunch prior to eating the appetizers. However, when my friend's dishes arrived, my mouth started watering which triggered me to order what one of my friend's got-pan fried gnocchi with black kale and peccorino topped with spicy crumbs. THIS was delicious. As one of my friends said, we usually get gnocchi with sauce. This was a dry version-but it was probably one of the best versions I've ever had of gnocchi. The house-made gnocchi (they make all their pasta in house) was fried to perfection on the outside, soft on the inside. The texture of the pasta was excellent too;cheesy with the right amount of potato. The black kale was pan fried (or deep fried?) so that it was crisp to perfection. Topped with shaved peccorino cheese and spicy crumbs, this dish was my favourite so far.
My friends agreed that Corso 32 didn't do much for them-mainly because their food was too simple and expensive. I agree that their menu is a bit over-priced, but if you take into account that many of their items on their menu are house-made (cured meats, pastas, and some cheeses) then one's perception might change. Their food might sound like it is too simple but this is Daniel Costa's focus: simple Italian comfort food, made with the freshest, most local ingredients. I am willing to return a second time.
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