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corso32 (Edmonton)

As already mentioned in the thread, "New Restaurants Opening in Edmonton" Daniel Costa (Red Star, Jack's Grill) is opening a new restaurant corso32. corso32 is slated to open this week, I feel very lucky I got a preview last night through a 9 course tasting.

I've been a huge fan of Costa's food at Red Star and have promoted his polpettes and Pembina pork pasta on this site. But his menu at corso32 takes his simple, rustic Italian cuisine to a whole other level. We had a 9 course tasting:

1.) Didn’t catch the name of this dish but essentially they were yummy Risotto balls oozing with cheese
2.) Fonduta ravioli, black truffle, pickled chanterelles, sage leaf
3.) Wild arugula salad with roasted hazelnuts, shaved fennel, and parmigiano vinaigrette
4.) Cotechini (sausage) with pickled lentils, parmigiano
5.) Beets with house made whipped goat ricotta and pistachio
6.) Ricotta gnocchi, tomato, basil
7.) Pappardelle, short rib ragu
8.) Braised meatballs, wild arugula
9.) Chocolate terrine, salty hazelnuts

The highlights for me as a cheese-a-holic were the risotto balls and the fonduta ravioli which were both oozing with cheese. Most of the other guests were also raving about the ravioli, the pasta was made fresh and when you cut into it the filling oozed out as if it were the sauce from cheese fondue. Another big hit was the short rib pappardelle, how can you go wrong with short rib and fresh pasta?

I also enjoyed the house-made ricotta which was so creamy and balanced the pickled beets well.

Dessert was a pleasant surprise, too often I've been to restaurants where the food is amazing but the chefs can't seem to create a nice rich dessert. The chocolate terrine was silky and decadent. A perfect ending to a great meal.

I can't wait for corso32 to open (currently will be open by Wed this week), we've already booked a New Year's tasting. I think this place will give the Edmonton food scene a much needed taste-lift.

Jack's Grill
5842 111 Street, Edmonton, AB T6H 3G1, CA

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  1. Looking forward to trying it! I have eaten my way through most of the Red Star menu and have been waiting for Daniel Costa to open a full restaurant with a slightly wider menu and improved service.

    1. A friend on FB posted a bunch of photos from the preview meal at Corso 32 - it looks amazing! I'm looking forward to giving it a try next time I'm in E-town.

      Foodkarma, I believe #1, the rice balls, are called Arancini. They are a very popular street food in southern Italy. Yum!

      1 Reply
      1. re: S_B_Russell

        S_B_Russell, you're right. We didn't catch the name but now that you've prompted me that's exactly what they were called "Arancini". Small world, we have someone in common the photographer for the night is my bf. That's how I managed to get an impromptu dinner.

      2. Corso32 officially opens today, Wednesday, December 15, 2010. 6 p.m. Cheers!

        1. Sounds like a very well planned, complementary menu. I'm excited to give it a try - how's the wine list?

          1 Reply
          1. re: KayceeK

            KayceeK, we didn't check out the wine list... will have to do so on our next visit now that it's open

          2. What is the exact location of Corso32?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Magnapro

              It's on the south side of Jasper Ave., between 104th and 103rd Streets.

            2. Ate at Corso 32 last night and really enjoyed it.

              Server provided mandarin bellinis on the house which was a nice little treat to start (everybody in the restaurant was getting them, not just us.)

              I had the arancini as an appetizer and enjoyed them but found they were a bit one dimensional. The serving was pretty generous - I think there were about 8 balls on my plate - but after 3 I had pretty much had enough. Not because of being too full or because they were too greasy or anything, but the filling is made from a very mild cheese (fior di latte), and the rice itself obviously doesn't lend much flavour. Apparently part of the filling was speck (a European cured pork vaguely similar to bacon) and mushrooms, but they were too subtle for me. Found myself wishing for some kind of tomato sauce or something to dip them in.

              My wife had a salad with pear and short rib terrine and it was amazing! The sweetness of the pear matched really well with the crunch of the greens and the moist, charred, almost smoky flavour of the beef.

              Mains were both very good - nice fresh papardelle with short rib ragu (perfectly sauced, not too much or too little) and the braised meatballs: soft, moist, flavourful, and topped with some nice sharp arugula.

              We shared a dessert of warm panettone covered with a nice smooth sauce/custard. I didn't pay much attention to how the menu described it as my wife picked that out, but thought I saw something about mascarpone being part of that dessert. A touch of sweetness without being overwhelming.

              For wine they had a very nice selection, lots of Italian choices, and lots of stuff you don't normally see in other restaurants. The wine we had was available by the glass but not by the bottle: Feudi San Gregorio 'Rubrato' red at $12 a glass.

              Service was good, the place was busy the whole time we were there. It's a nice space that could definitely be described as "cozy". We were seated at a spot that was clearly being used either as two tables pushed together for 4, or two tables for 2 that were slightly separated but much closer than you typically see in Edmonton.

              1. Is the Red Star Pub italian menu still good after chef Costa's opening Corso?

                1. So what's the trick to getting into this place? They don't answer their phone, the voicemail is full, they don't respond to email. Have been trying for a couple of weeks now to make a reservation and can't get anyone.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: Dan G

                    Same here! My husband and I are going to be in town next week and would like to make a reservation but have been unsuccessful. Do you just show up??

                    1. re: chefathome

                      wow...that is brutal. not a good start, hopefully someone from there will be reading this. What about contacting Red Star and telling them of the issues? Do they have a connection still?

                      1. re: cleopatra999

                        so my wife just got an email back, saying they don't take reservations by email, call them. So she calls, straight to voice mail, saying mailbox is full. Still. So she emailed back, explaining that. We'll see what the response is.

                        Pretty horrible way to run a business. Maybe they are so overwhelmed they can't handle all the people trying to get in, but pissing off potential customers isn't going to help them in the long run.

                        1. re: Dan G

                          Hmm thats odd... I have called numerous times to make a reservation and there have been no issues. In fact, I just called and they picked up within 2 rings. They are closed on Mondays, so thats probably not a good day to call.

                          1. re: kati3

                            <are closed on Mondays>
                            Well, that's good to know. Unfortunately they don't say anything about that on their website - are they open for lunch? what days are they closed? etc.

                            I tried to make a reserveration last week, and I had the same problem as DanG did - no answer, machine full.

                            I had a great time at the soft opening party, and loved the food, but I guess I'll wait until they have a few of these issues ironed out.

                            1. re: MrsCris

                              Not sure if they are open for lunch or just in there doing prep --- when i have called it has always been around lunch time and gotten an answer

                              1. re: kati3

                                They aren't open for lunch. I work nearby and we were hopeful they would be, but not so far.

                          2. re: Dan G

                            Dan G:

                            Could not agree with you more. Encountered much the same story years ago after Catch had opened and Michael Noble was still there.

                            Efforts at confirming a reso as we were driving down from Jasper were a comedy of errors, almost Monty Pythoneseque or Fawlty Towers in nature.

                            Never went back for dinner upstairs although I have stopped for oysters in their bar which does require a reso.

                            1. re: Bob Mac

                              Catch upstairs sounds pretentious. I have enjoyed the menu downstairs, however, I would like to see something like that here in Edmonton (minus the attitude)

                              The food at Corso 32 sounds a bit like Campagnolo in Vancouver. If the food is that good but their systems are not they could dispense with reservations.

                              Going on a tangent here, has the Red Star pub fare suffered as a result of the opening of Corso 32? Ive never been there and would like to give it a try based on all the previous comments on this board

                              1. re: felix the hound

                                David Costa was the one and only cook at Red Star. Since he's no longer there, he is definitely not cooking the food there anymore. Not sure if they have kept his old menu and tried to recreate the dishes, or have switched to something else.

                                But will it ever be "exactly" the same? Doubt it.

                      2. I sometimes wonder how often restaurateurs check Chowhound to see what is being said...

                        1. Finally got through today for reservations next Friday. Am really looking forward to it! Strange, though, about the phone/email thing...I called at 4:00 p.m.

                          1. My husband and I had dinner at corso32 last Friday evening (made reservations). We had never been there before so when we walked in we were surprised to be seated at a communal table. However, the surprise soon faded when we remembered that on our trips to southern Italy it was a common occurence. I also recall reading that on CH!

                            We started with the arancini which were fabulous - six large rice balls stuffed with cauliflower, cheese and the house pancetta. They arrived unadorned in a bowl with no accompaniments but that is also how it is done in Italy. We also ordered the fried short rib which was more like a terrine with a pear salad. It was succulent and extremely tender - it literally fell apart. As much as we enjoyed the arancini we LOVED the short rib dish. In fact we would return there and just order portions of that.

                            We were told the special that evening was braised goat with house paparadelle. Well, how often do you get that in Edmonton? We both love goat so we both had that dish. Initially I was going to go with the polpette but as I said I could not resist the goat. It was sublime. Apparently a week or two earlier the special was rabbit - oh, man. That would have been heavenly! Anyway, back to the goat. The flavour had so much depth - we both dug in and could not speak for a few moments while we savoured it. The meat was surreal and the pasta nicely done. A lovely match. Folks next to us had the polpette and the balls were gigantic! That looked incredible, too.

                            We were too full from our meal (large servings) to eat dessert which is unfortunate as they sounded like they would be delicious.

                            The service was discreet and attentive. We very much enjoyed our experience and will indeed return next time we are in Edmonton. This is definitely now in my top 5 Edmonton restaurants.

                            1. So I finally made it to Corso 32...friend walking by a few weeks ago made the reservation, never did hear back from the phone tag we played. Overall, pretty darn good. Exactly what Edmonton needs - a really good restaurant that offers really interesting food at a great price and has a good wine list that really works with the menu. One of our party called it best in Edmonton, and he's not too far off...

                              Small menu, with 6 people 3 had a salad, one the short rib, one 'breakfast': pork jowl, egg, braised raddichio, crostini, and one cheese and cauliflower fritter to start. All great except the fritters which were good but a bit one dimensional as a starter - would have been better as a table app. Mains: one meatballs, two braised pork, one beef and two wild boar pasta. All exceptional. Dessert, the 6 of us just had two orders of an olive oil cake with blood oranges, which was also very tasty...

                              In the past month, I've eaten at some great Italian places (Scarpetta and Mistura in Toronto, Lupo and Cibo in Vancuver) and Corso 32 holds its own. Polenta with the braised pork maybe pales in comparion to Scarpetta's polenta, but most things do! Otherwise, dollar for dollar, I'd say Corso 32 wins overall.

                              Will definitely return (in fact, made another res on the way out...)

                              1. We too finally made it to Corso32 - I never did hear back from them after I left a message, but husband was able to reach someone and made a reservation.

                                I like the feel of this restaurant. Simple but not spartan, comfortable chairs, lively music and enough background noise bouncing around so that you don't feel like you're eavesdropping on all the conversations around you, as the tables are very close together.

                                We too enjoyed the 'breakfast' offering Dan G mentions - a lovely perfect egg on delicious crunchy crostini with enough salty fatty pork to make it rich, but cut by the bitterness of the raddichio. We also loved the house-made goat ricotta with crostini - so often things like crostini are poorly made (a throw-away dish for the chef) but these were perfectly toasted and drizzled with a really good olive oil. I would order that creamy, tangy ricotta again anytime.

                                Mr. Cris enjoyed his yukon gold ravioli, though he would have liked something else on the plate for a texture contrast, but the pasta was perfectly made. I loved the 48 hour steak, which was served with an anchovy sauce, roasted parsnips and sauteed brussels sprout leaves. The steak was fork tender and I loved the salty anchovy sauce, though some might find it overpowering.

                                Hazelnut torta was everything everyone says it is: decadent, rich, luscious, and with crunchy salted hazelnuts offering just the right contrast. Also loved the olive oil cake with blood oranges. It was simple but perfect, the cake subtle and tender and not too sweet.

                                To echo what DanG said, we too were so pleased to have this restaurant in Edmonton - hubby said how it gave him hope for the dining scene in this chain-heavy city. The dishes were all made perfectly, paired with excellent service, and an eclectic and interesting menu. My new favourite.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MrsCris

                                  Yes, I forgot to mention how nice the venue is too...I might even call it spartan but in a good way. And great music - you've got to love any restaurant that plays Velvet Underground! Maybe not a good choice for a romantic dinner for 2, but superb choice for a fun night out as a group.

                                2. Had a "I'm-moving-to-Edmonton" Celebration dinner tonight and couldn't think of a better place than my fav Edm restaurant Corso 32.

                                  Between the two of us, we had the fat bastard of all meals.

                                  TO START:
                                  - rabbit liver terrine, pistachios & balsamico
                                  - orange & fennel marinated nocellara olives
                                  - stinging nettles with sunny up egg pickled cippolini onions and grated cured goat loin (the special)

                                  - Carbonara Tagliatelle with house cured pork jowl and ramps
                                  - Polpette, golden raisins, pinenuts, tomato sugo
                                  - Shaved brussel sprouts, crispy pork belly, spicy crumbs (side dish)

                                  We were going to skip dessert (too full) but the Canucks lost and I had to drown my sorrows over freshly fried limoncello Zeppole. AMAZING!

                                  Besides the Zeppole, the highlight for me was the carbonara. The saltiness of the house cured pork jowl was a great compliment to the creamy sauce and as usual, the fresh pasta was great.

                                  My boyfriend loves the nocellara olives. For my taste, I prefer Daniel Costa's version at Red Star. I'm not a black licorice fan and the ones here at Corso are made from toasted fennel seeds which create a much stronger flavour than the shaved fennel at Red Star.

                                  Still the perfect meal!

                                  1. I finally ate at Corso 32 last night. It was a great meal. To start off, we had the arancini (currently with tesa, spring pea, mint, & mozzarella). We all thought they were very good. They had a nice, crisp outside and the inside was pipping hot and had the perfect amount of cheese. They were so good that my table ended up getting a second order of them after our mains...

                                    I had the gnocchi (ricotta gnocchi, gull valley pomodorini, basil, sheep cheese). The sauce had a great tomato taste, which should be a given, but it to often lacking. The gnocchi itself was nice and soft.

                                    For dessert, my table could decide which one to split, so we ened up ordering, in a night of indulgence, one of each and splitting them so we each got a taste of all three (chocolate torta with salty hazelnuts, pistachio & olive oil cake with blood orange and mascarpone, and zeppole). We enjoyed all three, but my favourite was the pistachio and olive oil cake. It tasted good on its own, with a nice crust on the outside, and was simply spectacular when eaten with a bit of the blood orange and a dab of mascarpone.

                                    The atmosphere was not quiet, but I found the noise lively, instead of annoyingly loud. Service was quick, professional, and a bit removed.

                                    I will definitely be returning.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: aasg

                                      I'll be dining alone tonight (sunday) around 8pm or so, any chance of scoring a seat at the bar? Do they even have a bar?