Monday, January 14, 2013
Critic's Review By: Bob Migra, Special to The Plain Dealer
Corleone's in Parma offers fine dishes that conjure movie memories: Taste of the Town
Corleone's Ristorante in Parma is named after the don in the "Godfather" movies.
The menu is littered with dishes named after mob and mob-connected figures: Veal Gotti, Veal Sinatra, Shrimp Sammy, Chicken Luciano. (Other celebrities are celebrated, too.) Heck, the co-executive chefs were Marlon Mayorga and Vito Carrieri, until Carrieri left a year ago. Marlon Brando played Vito Corleone in "The Godfather."
All these Mafia allusions had me on the lookout for wise guys in silk suits with their comares on a recent Saturday night visit. But you'll be disappointed if you're coming to Corleone's to mob-watch. If, on the other hand, you're looking for some sophisticated Italian fare that is far beyond simple red-sauce-and-pasta, Corleone's is worth a visit.
The meal started with some terrific complimentary crusty bread, piping hot, served with a plate of olive oil and parmesan cheese for dipping.
"Que pane," I said, stealing a line from one of the "Godfather" movies. I found myself doing that often during my visits.
My wife and I and our dining companion could not resist sampling a first course of the Mariani ($12), winner of a recent best-appetizer contest. Perfectly seared and buttery-tender scallops sat on a bed of risotto laced with corn and pancetta, drizzled with a raspberry syrup. The dish would have been perfect if the corn had been better quality. Instead of crisp and sweet, the kernels leaned toward chewy and starchy.
Next up was a Classic Pizza ($11) -- an impossibly thin, delightfully crisp flatbread, topped with plenty of chewy cheese, pepperoni and some crumbles of not-shy-on-the-heat Italian sausage.
"This is something they cannot do," I thought, pondering the wonders of the pizza's paper-thin crust.
Crisp, simple salads, included with entrees, were followed by one terrific entree and another that was a near-miss. My Veal Trivisonno ($26) -- with tender, buttery veal medallions, a bed of sliced mushrooms and a rich sherry-cream sauce -- hit on all cylinders, as did the silky, garlicky side dish of pasta with marinara. I was reminded of another line from the movie, to be sure to "try the veal, it's the best in the city."
My wife's Steak Zampelli ($39) was a victim of good intentions. Our well-informed server warned that the cracked black pepper crust can be a bit much for the unwary. Instead of the requested light pepper coating, the steak arrived virtually unseasoned. Some salt and pepper were needed to cut into the rich gorgonzola sauce. No one could complain about the size (close to a pound), quality, or perfect doneness of the aged strip, though.
For dessert, I thought I would "take the cannoli" but instead opted for an order of Tiramisu and a Lemon Mousse Cheesecake ($6 each). The tiramisu cake was moist and not too sweet, with artful drizzles of caramel and chocolate. The satiny cheesecake exploded with lemon flavor. I prefer my tiramisu with a little alcohol or liquor flavoring in the icing, but "that's personal," not a real flaw in the dish.
Our return visit, for a weekday lunch, started with Stuffed Peppers ($9.95). Three banana peppers were cooked just right, retaining a fresh crunch. The sausage filling added a nice hint of heat.
My wife's Chicken Luciano ($11.95) and my Salmon LoConti ($12.95) both featured quality ingredients and sophisticated, well-prepared sauces: roasted red pepper with the chicken and lemon-cream with the salmon. A large block of old-school lasagne, laced with light, creamy ricotta and spinach, was a bargain for $9.95.
If you like Italian, and who doesn't, you'll want to pay a visit to Corleone's. "This is an offer you can't refuse."
Friday, July 30, 2010
Critic's Review By: Cathy Phillips, Sun News
At Corleone's Restaurant and Bar, the Italian fare is a hit
Imagine for a moment that you are one of those well-heeled, Italian-American movie or TV characters — you know the ones: dressed to the nines, with questionable business associates and a connoisseur’s appreciation of linguine with clams. They always hang out in these sophisticated little Italian joints, the ones with white linen tablecloths, dark wood paneling and a red sauce just like mama’s.
Just like these fictitious characters, real-life patrons of the beautiful Corleone’s Restaurant and Bar in Parma enjoy a little swank with their spaghetti, thanks to its sleek, upscale decor and the masterful culinary stylings of co-executive chefs Vito Carrieri and Marlon Mayorga.
Corleone’s customers are treated not just to the chic setting, but to outstanding southern Italian favorites, as well as top-notch milk-fed veal and certified Angus steaks.
Pete Bosinger and his wife, Liza, opened Corleone’s in 1995, after operating Sneky Pete’s in Seven Hills. Bosinger says he wanted to make the transition from a nightclub to the restaurant business. His passion for Italian food manifests itself in every course.
Prices are not cheap here, with entr es topping out at $40. However, portions are large enough that most diners can easily make two meals out of them. In addition, early birds can take advantage of the early dinner seating, available weekdays from 3-6 p.m., when many of the regular menu entrees are available as part of a $12 prix fixe menu ($14 for veal dishes), which also includes soup, bread, dinner salad, and a soft drink.
A heaping platter of calamari fritti ($11) was a perfect start to our recent meal. Corleone’s flawlessly executed rendition typifies what makes this dish so appealing — ultra-tender pieces of calamari fried up with a super crispy, light-as-air dusting of flour. Sprinkled with a burst of fresh lemon juice and dipped in a bit of the house’s light, fresh, and tomato-y marinara, the calamari offers a bit of heaven on earth. It’s sublime.
Corleone’s bread is also top-notch — warm, chewy, wonderful. It’s served with a plate of fluffy, grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh-snipped herbs, over which our server poured a nice glug of Italian olive oil. The combination of bread and oil thusly served is almost indescribably delicious. I thought to myself, “I could eat nothing but this every day and be happy.”
Veal Sinatra ($26) features a veal cutlet topped with an appealing combination of spinach, eggplant, ricotta and provolone cheeses, and savory marinara sauce. There is a nice textural contrast between the crispy breading, the tender veal and vegetables, and the creamy cheeses.
The linguine marinara ($16) is yet another iteration of simple done right. The truly mountainous portion of tomato-bathed pasta is topped by large twin meatballs, picture perfect with their snowy dusting of Parmesan. They are tender and juicy (not fatty), mild, and redolent of the sauce in which they were slowly simmered. You can’t fake that flavor profile.
Corleone’s has some tempting dessert choices on tap, including a well-regarded tiramisu ($6), but after such filling portions you’ll be forgiven if all you can manage is a deliciously smooth amaretto coffee ($5.50).
Corleone’s Ristorante and Bar is at 5669 Broadview Road in Parma. Restaurant hours are 4-9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, and 4-11 p.m. Saturday. View the menu and more online at corleonescleveland.com or call (216) 741-0220 for reservations.
THE PLAIN DEALER
Monday, June 28, 2010
Critic's Review By: Debbi Snook
Corleone's Ristorante & Bar in Parma serves dishes of Italian richness
Corleone's in Parma has dishes bearing the names of several famous Italians, along with others -- such as Veal Gotti and Gnocchi Capone -- who are infamous. There's certainly an air of high-ranking privilege amid the dark, secretive atmosphere at dinnertime, and a decadence on each plate. We felt special about the weather on our first visit, skirting the cozily romantic interior for the curved patio outdoors. The fenced-in area may be situated next to a parking lot, but it sits up high enough to make rooftops more obvious than cars, and to take advantage of an open, Western sky. Take note, sunset lovers.
There's also a music duo on Saturday nights, and they amazed us with how engaging just two guys who love good-old songs can sound. Request after request was met, and with personality. On our second visit, we lunched indoors. The lights were up more, giving depth and tailored elegance to the angled, tiered and partitioned little room. After three notices that they would be right with us, the waitstaff seated us and did a good job of keeping up with time-pressed, suited clientele.
Steel yourself for what arrives on the plate. Single dinners, and even a pasta at lunch, were enough food for two. I usually hate those plate-sharing charges, but the $5 extra you spend here splits the main dish into enough for two medium appetites, and gives you each salad and a side of pasta. Finally, this whole concept makes sense.
It also makes sense when you consider the price of each dish. There are plenty of dinners under $20, but there are plenty that are a lot more than that, up around $35. You could both get a share of that fancy steak or fish and still spend under $20 for food.
If only the calories were cut in half. Breadings, sauces, nuts, cheeses -- they're in there. The mastermind here must think no one is worried about keeling over in his or her tomato garden from too much richness. As for flavor, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.
Bet heavily on the Steak Zampelli ($29), a 14-ounce pepper-crusted strip steak bathed in gorgonzola dill cream sauce and served with a stack of thin-sliced potatoes au gratin so rich they almost seemed butter-poached. The pepper was the right firepower to cut through all the fat, and framed the plush flavors of the 22-day aged Angus beef.
Likewise for Chicken Liza ($20), crusted with pine nuts and asiago cheese in a Romano (cheese) chardonnay cream sauce. (Try saying that in one breath.) The foil for the richness this time was the piquant asiago.
Two other dishes were less successful: the Sea Bass Allega ($32), already rich enough from the deep-sea oils of the Chilean sea bass and topped with an almond crust. Never would there be enough lemon in the lemon and butter sauce. Also true of the Veal Gotti ($27), which mixed the breaded meat with crab-meat stuffing, provolone cheese, portobello mushrooms, diced tomatoes and a sherry-wine basil pesto sauce. All these things should add up to a distinct whole, but the distinct part was missing. Flavors competed to distraction, and the blandness of the veal didn't help.
I must say in full disclosure that my companions fell head over heels for both of those meals.
By the time we got to our baked penne lunch ($9 at lunch, $18 at dinner), we were not surprised by the family-size bowl of soothingly smooth ricotta and melted provolone tossed with the fruity house marinara. Or the mountainous mildly seasoned meatball in the center of the pasta. I like a little more garlic, but anyone just looking for comfort could drown themselves in this one.
The burger at lunch was stellar. It was big, juicy (not greasy), cooked medium as ordered and charred ever so magically on one side for full contrast to the meat. Fries were pre-salted and bursting with potato flavor.
You could order dessert here and go all out. But after trying two of them, only the house-made tiramisu made a memory. It's not as thick with mascarpone cheese as expected, but the cake layers were so fresh they still had the fragrant romance of vanilla and eggs.
We passed on dessert at lunch. I sat facing a corner wall through an otherwise lovely meal, wondering about the hideous deep gouges in the plaster on either side of my companion's chair. The result of a carb coma, perhaps? Ask the band to play a fast song, and show up when you're really, really hungry.
THE PLAIN DEALER
Friday, August 2, 2002
Critic's Review By Joe Crea
Tantalizing specialties at
Corleone's upscale new digs!
Set foot into Corleone's Ristorante & Bar, and any recollections of visits to its former incarnation evaporate.
In its previous life, Corleone's Italian Restaurant occupied a narrow slice of real estate a few doors north of its new location. With its background soundtrack, all-Rat Pack all-the-time, and a takeout window that dominated a tiny lobby, the restaurant presumed to be nothing more than a very good neighborhood joint well regarded for terrific pizzas, good veal and a few notable house specialties.
With its move came a new level of dressiness and greater expectations. Now it's a downright handsome space, nearly tripled in size and more destination than hideaway - though dishes honoring names such as Sinatra, LaMotta, Capone, Gotti and others evoke a hint of mystique.
The dramatic back wall in an adjoining lounge area sets a mildly sophisticated tone for the place. Dark, rich woods and a gentle curve to the wall divide seating areas in the minimally appointed main dining room, keeping the feeling simple and subdued.
In addition to the new, upscale ambience, owner Pete Bosinger boasts new help in the kitchen. Their skill shows in the restaurant's expanded menu, one that is presented in a handsome format that's easy to understand.
In the mood for, say, chicken? You can have your boneless breast handled in more than a half-dozen different preparations, each one clearly detailed. And though I don't especially welcome the practice of pairing dishes with specific brands of wines - let alone fairly average ones - if you can sidestep these mini-commercials you'll find some useful varietal recommendations in the bargain.
Since each entree is accompanied by a fairly large dinner salad, you may forgo the Caesar Salad ($6.95) as an antipasto, but it's sufficiently large and well-prepared to satisfy as a lunch. Two holdovers from earlier menus remain successful starters. Calamari Fritti ($8.95), lightly coated and crisped golden, arrive in a heaping mound. Sauteed Shrimp ($8.95) were cooked to a turn, with enough lemon in the garlic-butter-wine sauce to keep it interesting.
Artichoke Sorrentino ($7.95) is a mixed bag. Great fried lumps, they don't look like much and the pasty-looking cream cheese sauce on the side doesn't lend much to the spectacle. But the tangy morsels within are addictive. Order the tasty Sausage and Peppers ($6.95) sweet and spicy, call for a side salad and your lighter appetite may be quenched.
Pastas receive more respectful treatment than was noted in a previous review. The macaroni usually arrived al dente in servings big enough to share. Zuppa di Pesce ($20.95) is a flavorful standout, mixed shellfish and fin fish in generous array atop linguine. This kitchen turns out a sound Lasagna ($10.95), a dish at once hearty but not heavy.
Companions doted on the luxurious Fettucini Alfredo ($10.95) and a side of heartily garlicky Linguini Aglio-Olio. The potatoey dumplings in the Gnocchi Ricardo ($12.95) weren't nearly so light, though the broccoli was fork-tender and played nicely against the garlic-herb sauce. If you relish mushrooms, try the Cappellini alla Funghi ($10.95), angel hair in a nice marinara sauce laced with flamed mushrooms lashed with marsala.
Go for the Eggplant Parmesan ($12.95), a balanced treatment wherein the characteristic flavor of tender eggplant wasn't swamped by other ingredients. Veal Sinatra ($17.95), a house specialty, is a platterful of robust flavors, though they risk overwhelming the subtle sweetness of the decent veal.
Terrific Chicken Marsala ($13.95) was marred only by the kitchen's tendency to saute the meat at too low a temperature, yielding a pale finish where quicker, higher heat would lend an appetizingly caramelized finish. It's less noticeable in a delicious Vitello Arsena ($17.95), the sauteed veal blanketed in a wonderfully light cream finish, or in luscious Chicken Broccolini ($13.95), a melange of scallopini slices combined with penne in a well-garlicked Alfredo sauce.
Long a reliable destination within the southwest suburbs, Corleone's growth and maturity makes an impressive mark on the local scene. It's an appealing spot and a decided step up from so much of the midrange dining in the area, making it a place worth visiting time and again.