Although I have been to Locanda Corsini dozens of times since I started NoGarlicNoOnions, but for some reason I haven't written about it yet. I wanted the review to be special and detailed. I always enjoyed the experience and thought I would keep it pending until my next visit to the hills of Naas, were this unique boutique hotel and Italian restaurant are located. My next visit came and with it came a bit of disappointment. What I used to enjoy at this place has changed... We have to sadly accept that some things changed with time... I should have written my detailed review before...
Locanda Corsini, a five-star boutique hotel and Italian restaurant, is owned and managed by the Corsini family, Lebanese from Italian origins. A passionate couple receives their guests every night for a fine Italian experience shared in their home. They transformed their house into a luxurious hotel where a serene solitude, wrapped in nature's welcomes seekers of calm. One can enjoy the livelihood of nature's own, and the very best of homemade food and countryside hospitality. Situated 1050m above sea-level and 25 km from Beirut, This traditional ochre-colored mandaloun-style villa, is hand crafted with unique Lebanese 150-year old architecture of ancient stones and arches. The extensive glazing opens onto beautiful terrace areas, secluded gardens, with spectacular views of pine trees that sway above the villa singing of a land untouched by man and modernity.
It was 09:30pm when we reached the villa, gave our car to the valet parking and went down the few stairs that lead to the restaurant. Below the reception is a spacious space where a chimney adds the needed warmth. Enjoy a quick drink at the bar before moving on to enjoy a sophisticated Italian dinner. I was expecting, like always, to be received by the owners. But they were not there last Friday night. Although the manager was present, he stayed seated behind the cash counter all night.
The place’s architectural details:
Our night started with a glass of fine Italian wine... as we enjoyed the flames at the fireplace. The menu:
- A few steps down, open the wooden door and immediately enter the large squared restaurant
- To the right is the chimney behind the bar. An LCD TV displays the Mezzo channel program
- The restaurant is painted in light orange colors and decorated with light wood and old style curtains
- Choose to sit on round or square tables
- Yellow tiles as well as old Lebanese style squares cover the floor
- In the middle of the restaurant you'll find a structure covered with couple paintings
- The tables are covered with white tablecloths, set up with a full set of cutlery
- The ceiling, painted in white had three long strips of wood that add the needed light
- An overall warm ambiance with dimmed lights and soft Italian tunes
- Pates Maison, Risotti
- Dulcis in Fundo
- Boissons chaudes
A breadbasket landed on our table by the chimney. Freshly baked bread balls served hot. Served with the basket are some green and black olives, as well as two kinds of olive tapenade, a spicy one and another basic one prepared without garlic. The first impression was good and that made me want to try more. On the side, every person gets a bag of Grissini Torinesi.
We wanted to stay seated on the sofas to continue our dinner by the chimney. "We can't serve you here, you have to move to your table," the waiter asserts in a loud voice. "These are orders from the management". We asked the waiter to ask the manager, but he refused... so we moved to sit on a table.
The starters were simple and tasty; let's say that they are not too complicated to make:
For dinner we chose to have a selection of pasta and a risotto:
- Mozzarella and tomatoes spiced up with sliced basil leaves that gives it the needed aroma to make this plate enjoyable.
- The St. Daniel ham is generously sliced and fresh. Served on a round plate with French mini pickles.
- Crespelline aux Fromages ricotta et epinards: In a bath of ricotta cheese, you'll find tender layers of dough rolled like a a sandwich filled with spinach. The dough was a bit too overcooked but the general taste of the plate is good.
- Ravioli Four Cheese with white sauce and pesto: Four large pieces of ravioli covered with soggy cheese sauce mixed with shredded dried basil. The filling was smooth, moist and full of taste. A bit too creamy but interesting. I personally liked it despite the fact that pesto doesn't really fit the mix. Everyone else at the table didn't share my positive opinion.
- Seafood Risotto: This is not something you should order in my opinion. This plate was filled with too much clamps and in my opinion they should be called the garlic risotto - the garlic dosage in this plate was way too much. Although the rice was perfectly cooked, I think the spices and garlic masked the taste of whatever seafood was in the mix. More so, the tomato flavor was also too much... Rice with tomato and garlic? Is this a new thing I'm not aware off?
- Penne Arrabiata with red sauce, fresh tomatoes and basil: Al dente pasta and that's it. I enjoyed the tomato sauce with some fine spices, but it included way too much garlic.
- Tiramisu: Served in a casserole like dish you will find two coffee-soaked ladyfingers layered with mascarpone custard and whipped cream. The chocolate powder adds the needed flavors. A good dessert, but not exceptional
- Apple Tart's dough was thin and full of flavor but unfortunately the apples were undercooked. It crunches unpleasantly while the vanilla ice cream was way too creamy. They need to rework on this dessert.
The pluses and things I liked:
- The staff works smoothly and discreetly
- Water glass bottles by Tannourine are served
- They offer a choice of Perrier and San Pellegrino
I was honestly expecting the food to be better and cooked with more attention. It should have been a bit more sophisticated and refined... We left hungry...
- I was craving for some lemon risotto that was not available on the menu. It's not too hard to cook
- The prices are a bit too expensive for what they offer
- We are used to being welcomed by the owners but they were not there on a Friday night. Weird.