Cheesetique founder Jill Erber and James Beard-nominated chef Cathal Armstrong teamed up to create Corso Italian, a new “neo-retro” restaurant and retail market opening at the Village at Shirlington in early December (4024 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, Virginia).
Homemade pastas and seasonal ingredients will anchor a menu full of playful takes on classic Italian dishes. Look for chicken Vesuvio updated with red chili and sage, bone-in veal parmesan, carbonara built with homemade guanciale, and cannoli cheesecake, with cured and preserved elements during colder months and local produce come spring and summer.
“Every day you will see us making pasta in the front window,” says Armstrong, whose culinary career started in an Italian kitchen in his native Dublin. “This feels like coming home.”
An all-Italian wine list will join a lineup of negronis, spritzes, and a bar dedicated to amaro. Erber will stock a gourmet market up front with take-home pastas, sauces, Italian cheeses and wine, salumi, and other pantry staples.
Corso Italian’s business partners bonded two decades ago over a shared love for specialty cheese, when Armstrong was cooking at D.C.’s Bistro Bis and Erber was starting out as a wholesale purveyor. Around since 2004, her Northern Virginia fromagerie prides itself on sourcing European cheeses of all shapes and sizes to whip up dairy-focused dishes like grilled cheeses and mac and cheese. The original Cheesetique in Del Ray is joined by another locale in Shirlington.
Relaxed bar and bistro seating at Corso Italian will be joined by two private dining rooms — the Mona Lisa Salon and the Chairman’s Lounge — that promise a moodier vibe. Dinner in the main dining room will be joined by service in the salon and the addition of lunch a few weeks after opening.