I love that over the last few years, Cooper-Young has become something of a restaurant district. It’s nice to have a ton of variety in a single neighborhood. The area’s newest addition is Cortona, a sprawling Italian restaurant.
Cortona moved into the space formerly occupied by Dish, a trendy cocktail bar. There are few reminders of the building’s past. The bed-shaped booths have been replaced by tables, the bar area seems more spacious, and the carpeted dining room is decorated with muted colors, exposed brick and soft lighting. Though the menu is all Italian, the inside of the restaurant doesn’t scream “pasta joint”. Instead, it’s quiet, open and upscale.
The menu isn’t huge, but it’s got a well-edited selection of pasta, pizzas, desserts and entrees. It’s also super affordable, with the most expensive thing on the menu priced at $17.50.
I started with the arugula salad, which came with a lemon-olive oil dressing and huge flakes of Asiago cheese. The portion was huge, and while the kitchen was generous with the cheese and dressing, they skimped on other vegetables (my salad had two cherry tomatoes and one half-slice of cucumber). After a few bites, it was less a salad and more a big bowl of spinach and arugula.
For dinner, I ordered the Tagliatelle, which is handmade fettuccine that comes with your choice of tomato, garlic, meat or pesto sauce. I had mine with tomato sauce and vegetables. The portion was generous, and the sliced vegetables were fresh.
That said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the pasta. I’m a bit picky about food texture, and the fettuccine was so limp that it clumped together in the bowl. The tomato sauce was good, but it lacked backbone. I wish it would have been a little thicker or spicier.
Dessert was awesome, though. I had the tiramisu, which was perfectly creamy and spongy and came with some tangy raspberry sauce.
The service was quick, friendly and attentive, even though the restaurant was crowded.
I really hope Cortona does well. They’ve only been open for a few weeks, but people in the neighborhood seem really excited about them. I’m excited to try it again after it’s been open a while – it shows a ton of promise.