Italian cuisine

Corto: Classic Italian Cuisine in Jersey City

Three years ago, when chef Matt Moschella and his partners were looking for a location for their new restaurant Corto, they had a simple vision in mind: to make “food simple and straightforward.” The team eventually settled into an old bodega in Jersey City’s Heights neighborhood and transformed the scruffy interior into a fun, bustling dining space that doesn’t look like anyone’s living room – wooden furniture, a Cheerful picture wall and creamy white wall panels which restored the room’s original 1930s look. A small open plan kitchen adjoins but is not separated from the dining area. The space is meant to be accessible and comforting, just like the food. Read on to learn more about Corto located at 507 Palisade Avenue in Jersey City.

People started arriving, first from nearby neighborhoods, then from Manhattan, Brooklyn and even more distant places. national and local the media gave rave reviews {This year readers of hoboken girl also elected Corto the best restaurant in jersey city}. And the heartwarming style and pursuit of quality have remained strong as ever, even in the face of a pandemic.

{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

The food

{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

The menu is small but ambitious, each item a thoughtful take on rustic Italian classics. “We don’t invent dishes that challenge the palate,” Matt said. hoboken girl. “The idea is to present the ingredients in the best [their] quality.” Most of the dishes are based on Italian recipes that are “generational”, as Matt puts it, “something you eat at a nonna’s house”.

corto italian cuisine jersey city

{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

Another consideration that goes into menu design is the capacity of the kitchen, which is {very} small. “We can’t do a lot of prep and refrigerate the ingredients for the next day,” Matt explained. “Fresh products are brought in six days a week. The pasta is fresh daily. The exercise is essentially about “providing a comforting experience within the limits of what can be performed.”

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{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

The pasta is unquestionably the highlight of the menu, a perfect showcase of “the whole greater than the sum of its parts”. The sauce is usually made with a short list of herbs, cheese, and sometimes charcuterie. The flavors are simple, the portions tight, but when paired with the right pasta shapes that bring out the merit of the sauce, the result is stellar.

Some of our favorites include the fluffy casarecce, a short, twist-like pasta} tossed in a silky, aromatic pesto, the mafaldine {ribbon with wavy edges – enjoyed with a boldly flavored creamy sauce of speck and grana padano, and the gnocchetti sardi, which is a small shell with external ridges that fully absorbs the round flavors of a tomato and chickpea based sauce.

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{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

Pasta can also be enjoyed at home. Corto rolled out pasta kits for its then-newly launched online store in March when local restaurants were forced to switch to take-out mode due to the lockdown. “We’ve noticed that pasta is selling out very quickly in grocery stores and customers have been very receptive to home cooking,” Matt said. hoboken girl at the time. Although limited on-site dining has since become available, the online store {called “Corto Mercato”} has remained and grown.

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It now offers a dozen gourmet pantry items, several freshly made pastas, and two kinds of homemade ravioli. Our team tried some of the meat ravioli at home, tossed in a simple butter and sage sauce. The pasta wrap is tender and supple. And the pork filling is velvety and very tasty.

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{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

More interesting are the seasonal offerings, which are inspired by traditional dishes from all over Italy. “There are no set rules,” Matt explained when asked where the ideas for seasonal dishes come from. Basically, southern Italian recipes are featured more in spring and summer; and during the colder months, Nordic comfort foods appear more often on the menu.

Contemporary food trends also come into play. Last summer, a light crabmeat ravioli was on the menu, topped with sweet corn and shishito. The fall menu included hearty ricotta gnocchi with hazelnut romanesco broccoli and caramelized cipollini onions. More recently, in December, there were tortelli in brodo, a “meatier” version of Emilia-Romagna’s iconic tortellini in brodo.

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{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

Items other than pasta are just as strong. In starters, popular entrees include a frequently changing {tower-shaped} meat and cheese plate and ricotta toast sprinkled with cracked pink pepper. The main courses are hearty and festive. The “Angry Chicken”, a mainstay on the menu since almost day one, is simmered with guanciale and Calabrian chili in a round sauce made with tomato and garlic. There’s also ‘pork stracotto’ {shoulder of pork with polenta}, or lamb shank on a bed of almost creamy lentil stew, a seasonal specialty.

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local resident

Matt shared with our team the restaurant’s customer-centric approach to food and service. New dishes are introduced frequently to “always have something interesting” for loyal customers, while all-time favorites are kept on the menu for those who want something familiar, something to commemorate special occasions or simply something that embodies the essence of Corto’s cuisine.

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{Photo credit: @corto_jc}

As the weather gets colder, the team came up with dishes more suited to seasonal “alfresco dining” – soups, risottos, dishes that easily keep warm for alfresco dining. And of course, the dishes are comforting for body and soul.

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Written by: Yiwei Gu

Yiwei was born and raised in China. She lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she quit her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since taken on a few freelance gigs in career coaching, college admissions counseling and writing. When she’s not wandering wildly through the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping espresso at one of Hoboken’s cafes or trying out restaurants in Hoboken. and in the Jersey City area.