Simply exceptional food and service, and the best meal I've had in years! You must try their version of "Milanese Style" steak, which is a garlic, oregano, and oil sauce poured over the steak on a sizzling hot platter just before it is served. It takes a great steak to a whole new level.
We had dinner with another couple at Cortese Saturday evening. Even though they were packed, we were seated at exactly the time of our reservation, and I was blown away by how fast, friendly, and professional our service was. We all loved our meals as well. I had the "Festa Corrado", which is fresh little neck clams, sea scallops, mussels, and shrimp over linguine with red or white sauce (I chose white) on one plate, along with a beautiful prime rib served "Milanese Style" on another. Every single bite was delectable, and the quality was second to none. The portions are excellent if you have a big appetite, but not ridiculous. While not exactly cheap, the prices are quite reasonable for the quality of food and service.
They have a variety of house-made salad dressings. The house Italian is very good, but be warned, they really love their garlic here (and so do I). The bleu cheese was also excellent. The fried calamari appetizer is on the small side, but prepared perfectly. It is served with cocktail sauce rather than marinara, though they seem happy to prepare whatever you like, however you like it. The bread is soft and squishy, but very fresh and plentiful.
The dining areas are a bit small, and the tables seem a little too close together, but we were a table of four, three of whom are very large, and had enough room. As packed as they were on a Saturday night, it was a bit loud, but not overbearing. From where we were seated, I had a good view of the meals being served at many other tables, and everything I saw look delicious. I didn't notice a single complaint from anyone while we were there, but heard plenty of compliments.
The general atmosphere was welcoming and comfortable for semi-casual fine dining, and the effort, pride, and attention to detail is very evident in everything they do. As an obese person who is not wealthy, I tend to be very conscious of negative and judgemental attention, as well as the subtle condescension which often taints my experiences at otherwise nice places. I felt very at-ease and welcome at Cortese. I only wish this were the norm at better restaurants.
I can't say enough about the superb service, and I'm embarrassed that I can't remember our server's name, but he obviously had a great deal of experience, and should be teaching waiters and waitresses everywhere how it's done. Confident, efficient, and professional, without a bit of arrogance. Friendly and available, without intruding. Normally I'm mainly concerned with the quality of the food, but service this exceptional must be acknowledged. If our server should read this, and remember the "fat table of four" from Saturday evening who gave you an extra pen, your excellence was truly appreciated.
I highly recommend Cortese Restaurant. It is now the standard to which I will compare future fine dining experiences. I can see myself becoming a regular here very easily.
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