Corso 98—A Hidden Gem
Restaurant is off the beaten path of Bloomfield Avenue, but should not be missed.
Off the well-travelled path of Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair is a restaurant making fine-dining patrons stand up and notice.
That restaurant is Corso 98.
The name, Corso means street in Italian and 98 is the address at 98 Walnut St.
The restaurant, specializing in contemporary Italian cuisine, opened in 1997. It is located in a storefront, but once you step inside you’ll feel as if you've entered a small Italian villa with brick stucco decorated with pictures of an Italian landscape.
We were greeted by general manager Elio Suriano, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother and the restaurant’s chef, Corradino. Suriano had the waiter bring over drinks, a caponata and a loaf of warm, thick-crusted bread.
For our appetizers, we started with an order of crispy calamari ($10), lightly sprinkled with flour and served with both marinara sauce and a pesto mayonnaise. The portion appeared large enough to be served as an entrée.
For another appetizer, we selected the rock shrimp risotto cakes ($13), deliciously sautéed shrimp served in a roasted tomato cream. Everyone agreed the shrimp was a tasty treat.
Our last appetizer was the handmade mozzarella cheese in Carozza ($8). The cheese was dipped in crumbs, cooked crispy and served with marinara sauce and was light and crispy.
Two people in our group decided they wanted a non-traditional Surf & Turf meal for their main course and were not disappointed. One person ordered the Angus angler steak ($25), a type of beef not known for its tenderness but for its flavor, while the second person ordered pine nut crusted Chilean sea bass ($32). There was an additional $2 charge for sharing.
Both felt the steak was “among the best they’d ever eaten” and found the fish well-prepared and delicious.
Another entrée that drew plenty of oohs and ahhs from our table was the rack of lamb ($29) in a brunello wine sauce. The dish was accompanied with whipped potatoes and chopped asparagus. The dish was beautifully topped with thinly sliced onion rings.
The lamb was tender and juicy and the portion was more than enough. The potatoes were puffy and light and the asparagus were crispy and delicious. The onion rings were passed around the table since everyone wanted to sample them and no one was disappointed.
Our final entrée was the veal saltimbocca ($25), served with prosciutto, mozzarella and sage. This was by far the table favorite. The sauce used in this dish tasted similar to the lamb sauce.
The veal itself was tender and flavorful and left everyone at the table wanting more because of the way it was seasoned and prepared. The veal was accompanied by Parmesan potatoes and chopped asparagus.
Although the portions served were large and filling, we felt we needed to sample dessert to get a full picture of Corso 98.
We decided on a fresh torta ($8), a piece of warm pastry filled with peaches and topped with vanilla ice cream. A lone strawberry cut in the shape of a rose accompanied the dessert. The pastry was flaky and delicious, but it was the fruit and ice cream that won over our table.
We completed our meal with a decaf cappuccino ($3) and a cup of white tangerine tea ($2).
Some other items to note about Corso 98:
• Reservations are recommended. The night we visited, the restaurant filled up very quickly. According to the website, restaurantpassion.com, the restaurant is available for parties of up to 65 people.
• The restaurant has a liquor license for New Jersey wine.
• The waitstaff was attentive and eager to please. Elio Suriano was present in the dining room for most of the evening. His brother and the restaurant’s chef, Corradino, can also be seen inside the dining room as well.
• The restrooms we visited were small and are not handicap accessible.
• On-street metered parking is available.
• Dress code for the restaurant was dressy.
• The waitstaff explained the kitchen is open on Sunday afternoons when they make fresh ravioli for sale.
98 Walnut St.
Montclair, NJ (973) 746-0789
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 5-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 5-11 p.m.
Sunday: 4-9:30 p.m.