Hidden on Shattuck Avenue, Trattoria Corso is easy to miss in a passing glance. I never noticed it until six months ago while I was walking slowly on the other side of the road and happened to notice windows with “Corso” written on them. Once I got back to my apartment, I looked up the restaurant, and I am sure glad I did. The menu, focusing on Florentine cuisine looked, and was, delicious.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is cozy and relaxing but still has a bustling quality to it. There are two small rooms, each with 15 to 20 tables at most. It is clear that the restaurant prioritizes both the quality of the cuisine and the atmosphere. The dishes were small and finishable in one sitting, which showed dedication by allowing proper crafting of each small dish. The upscale bar and the close proximity of each table reminded me of a busy restaurant in a large city such as New York City, and I found enjoyment in the contrasting feelings of privacy and publicness while talking to my friend in this intimate yet exposed setting.
I ordered a bowl of pappardelle pasta with rabbit ragu and a rich tomato sauce — partly because I really wanted to try rabbit so that I could add it to my list of exotic foods. Pappardelle is a large, flat and broad cut of pasta, and a ragu is a meat-based sauce. The strong egg taste of the pappardelle stood out, making the pasta more filling, satisfying and slightly creamy. The rabbit ragu was scattered between the inch-long sheets of pasta. The well-cooked rabbit took little effort to chew and was similar to soft melting salmon. Unfortunately, the dish was a little too salty for my taste. The pappardelle itself had a lot of salt, and the tomato sauce was not very light either — not due to a lack of freshness but rather because the sauce was too heavily spiced. Another small complaint would be the lack of olives — the menu said there were olives in the dish, yet only two appeared in my bowl. It was difficult to disperse the flavor of olives with only two of them. However, one great aspect of the dishes at this restaurant is the small portion size, which leaves you satisfied but not too full or bursting, leaving room for the wonderful desserts.
For me, desserts are always the shining stars of the meals, and this dessert, a panna cotta with peaches, was no exception. Upon arriving, it appeared white, milky and pure. When I took my first bite, I thought I had gone to heaven. Its melting texture, which I tried to keep in my mouth as long as I could, was extra creamy — like the melted chocolate in a lava cake. There was vanilla bean mixed into the panna cotta, and the slight taste of real vanilla was refreshing and complex. It was definitely the best panna cotta I have ever tasted, and I would come back to Trattoria Corso just for this dessert.
There are not many restaurants like Corso, where every dish is well crafted. Corso’s success is proven by the difficult reservations. Both times I made reservations, I had to make them three weeks in advance, but it was definitely worth the wait. Both times I ate at Trattoria Corso were memorable experiences. Everything that I have tried here was pleasing, and I’m eager to come back for more.
Trattoria Corso is located at 1788 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709. Call 510-704-8004
Contact Annie Chang at [email protected].