It’s hard to stand out in the crowded field of dining and drinking establishments on Coral Gables’ Restaurant Row, so it’s not a surprise that some newcomers struggle to find their identity. Like a middle child born into a brood of popular over-achievers, the 6-month-old Il Corso Trattoria is flanked on Giralda Avenue by longtime hangout The Bar, with its stalwart stream of party-minded drinkers, and lively gastropub The Local, with its adventuresome menu and craft beers.
Housed in the cavernous space formerly occupied by Archie’s Pizza, Il Corso serves traditional Italian fare — pizzas, pastas, risotto and trattoria-style entrees. But it tries to make everybody happy by throwing in barbecue and buffalo chicken wings on its antipasti menu and including ubiquitous Miami desserts like tres leches among its sweet endings. An oversized, laminated menu with photos of dishes screams “budget,” but a final bill of $200-plus for a group of four says otherwise.
Ambience: An attempt has been made to warm the brick-columned, 75-seat dining room, but the large mirrors, landscape paintings and multiple big-screen TVs make it feel impersonal. A full bar that stretches along one wall had neither bartender nor patrons on our evening visits.
- Perfectly cooked flat-iron steak with cremini mushrooms and four-cheese pasta
- Thin, brick-oven-fired pizzas with airy crusts and generous fresh toppings of tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, red onions, meats and olives
- Near-perfect house-made crème brûlée with creamy custard warmed by a sugar topping burned to just the right degree of snap
What Didn’t Work
- Tough, dry sautéed veal cutlet over truffle cream baby spinach and angel hair pasta
- Warm, but hard, bread served in a wire cone with a small plate of olive oil and Parmesan cheese
- Dull & flavorless penne bolognese made with ground beef and pork
- Carpaccio of beef tenderloin peppered with salty Parmesan shavings, but lacking basic seasonings
- Suppli – balls of crispy fried mozzarella stuffed with risotto and served with an unremarkable marinara sauce
- Tiramisu served in the plastic bowl in which it had been packaged