How many Italian-based eateries can you list in the city? How many of us have oregano in our cupboards, or Parmesan in our refrigerators? At this point, Italian isone of the most familiar and staid styles of our cooking culture, which makes Corso’s success all the more impressive. And really, its approach is a paradox. While completely original to Edmonton, Corso bases its approach on the oldest recipes in classic Italian cooking, the kind that goes from field to kitchen, then oven to plate. Owner/head chef Daniel Costa makes each flavour combination seem effortless, just like nature intended – the game hen spiced with nutmeg and lemon is nestled comfortably in subtle squash, while the parmigiano reggiano’s robust saltiness pairs with a thick and sweet black truffle honey. There’s no kitchen witchcraft here, just delicious ingredients paired to highlight flavours you may not have appreciated on their own. So, while we’ve all been chasing the reinvented wheel, it’s good to be reminded that the original takes us exactly where we want to be, touring the Italian countryside, finding pleasure in the simplest things.-Caleb Caswell 10345 Jasper Ave., 780-421-4622, corso32.com
Runner-Up: SACCOMANNO’S PIZZA PASTA & DELI
It’s a weekend afternoon. There are older men gathered around the television, watching an Italian soccer match. The counter is filled with varieties of pastas, perfect for lunch before heading to the adjoining market to buy some bread and cheese. Saccomanno’s is located right across the street from the CN Rail Yards, but it’s worth finding this needle in the haystack. The lasagna is, as a New Yorker would say, “as big as your head.” Yes, it’s anything but formal. But you’re there for the ample portions of Italian comfort food – not to impress a date. -Steven Sandor 10208 127 Ave., 780-478-2381
Violino might be a high-end Italian restaurant, located in a stylish mansion along 124 Street, but check your pretention at the door when you order the lunchpizza special, which comes piping hot from the restaurant’s patio wood fireoven. The thin crust and generous toppings come atop your own cutting board and it’s equally as satisfying as the restaurant’s two-person signature dish, the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a grilled t-bone steak served alongside potatoes in a red wine veal reduction.-Caroline Barlott 10133 125 St., 780- 757-8701, violino125.com
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