When I was lucky enough to meet the blogger behind Vancouver’s I’m Only Here for the Food! last year, it was definitely a highlight. Meeting at Furusato for sushi (see here), we quickly broke down any walls put in place by our distant and to-this-point strictly interweb friendship. I found his views refreshing and his thoughts on food provoking. After all, the food blogging community in Vancouver is unlike any in Canada; just have a gander at the top UrbanSpoon Worldwide Blog Leaderboard. Why am I bringing this memory up you ask. After a few emails during the holiday season, Kim mentioned he’d be back in our city and was hoping we could dine again. You don’t have to ask me twice I said, so I quickly set about finding a restaurant that would work.
With our primary focus on, or near, the downtown core, I was really happy see Kim bite at my idea of Corso 32. And seeing as how this new venture by Danial Costa has become the talk of local foodies; could there be a better place to eat with a visiting blogger? Located on the south side of Jasper Ave, just a hop from the downtown famers market and right next to Sankyu 2 Go, Sarah and I walked in a few minutes before Kim. A large family style table dominated the space near the front window, with a mix of 4 and 2 tops stretching back into the long, rectangular space. The open kitchen is only visible from the front half and I had to wonder about circulation, as the front door was propped open during our entire visit, with a bit of smoke collecting near our table at one point.
Noticing that the menu we had on this evening was created 2 days before; Sarah and I listened to the specials before ordering a bottle of sparkling water and waiting for our guest. Kim was not far behind us, and after getting all the pleasantries out, we started our rustic Italian adventure. With 3 starters on the menu, it made the decision pretty straight forward. They came out as they were prepared (ie, different times) so in order of their arrival; Smoked Arancini, Mushrooms, Mozzarella (they were different than stated on the menu), Whipped Goat Ricotta, Maldon Sea Salt, Crostini, and lastly, Crispy Short Rib Terrine, Barlet Pear Salad.
The arancini, which are deep fried rice balls, looked considerably nice than my first experience with this offering at Indulgence last year. The crusty fried exterior cracked into a melted center of cheese and mushroom. Not light by any stretch, they are best eaten right away, as discovered when we set two aside when the next dish was delivered. The whipped ricotta was stellar. With the smooth, creamy cheese spreading like warm butter on the perfectly toasted, and garlic rubbed bread. I found myself telling Sarah these may be the best crostini’s we’ve had in the city. If cheese and bread is your friend slash enemy, this could be a damaging concoction. The last dish to arrive was the short rib terrine. Piled high with sweet slices of pear, I was surprised to discover what looked more like a flat-top prepared short rib than terrine. The crispy edged meat was cooked long enough, but lacked any of that fatty short rib character that usually makes this dish so succulent. When I think of terrine, the dish in front of us did not exactly fit.
Even with the restaurant filling up its 32 seat capacity, our mains were spaced out quite nicely and I didn’t find myself wondering where our food was. Just like our appetizers, we decided to order what we thought would be shareable items; Braised Meatballs, Crispy Bread Crumbs, Wild Arugla, the Pulled Pork Ravioli, Fried Sage, and 48 Hour Chuck Flat Steak, Shaved Celery Root & Black Garlic Vinaigrette.
The meatballs were sitting in a gorgeous tomato base and came topped with highly addictive, and delicious, bread crumbs. The meat was tender, moist and offered enough spice to make your mouth jump. One noticeable difference for me was the braising, as I’m used to creating a bit of golden crust when making meatballs. I may just have to try and braise a batch now. The three pieces (perfect for sharing) of ravioli were filled with a moist, tender and perfectly executed pulled pork. If anything, I could have easily used a bit more filling in such large ravioli squares. The steak, which was tweeted about just hours before our meal, made for a strange impression. The slow cooking period had broken the meat down to a point that was very reminiscent of the short rib we had for an appetizer. And with a rather bland center, I think it’s a good thing the crispy outside was loaded with flavour.
As we finished our plates, the offering of dessert was made easier by there only being once choice; Chocolate Torta and Hazelnuts. With Kim surprising Sarah and I with a gift of PC Confections, we ordered just the one serving and decided to share. The torta was unreal. The rich, smooth chocolate combined with hazel nuts creating one of the best desserts I’ve had in recent memory. Even Sarah, who isn’t a big chocolate fan, couldn’t put her fork down. Get two servings if you go.
If our recent meal at Sabor Divino was for the special occasions, this cozy spot may be for the weekday crowd looking to fill their stomachs with a solid meal and friendly vibe. Just like The Marc, I think it’s safe to say that Corso 32 is a another great addition to the Edmonton core. If anything, I’m curious to see how our guest, and very busy Vancouver blogger looks at this meal (post here).